Prof. Timothy Bickmore, in collaboration with researchers at Boston Medical Center, was awarded a $400,000 grant from the Agency for Health Research and Quality, entitled “Using Innovative Communication Technology to Improve the Health of Young African American Women.” The objective of this two year project is to develop a “preconception care” health behavior change intervention for African American women ranging from 15 to 21 years old, engaging them before they become pregnant to address disparities in infant mortality and low birth weight. This intervention covers twelve domains of health behavior known to affect the health of mothers and infants, spanning healthcare access, family planning, nutrition and diet, mental health, alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse, infectious disease, immunizations and medical conditions. The intervention will be delivered by a web-based relational agent, an animated counselor that delivers tailored health messages to patients at home. The system will have social networking capabilities enabling patients to contribute personal change narratives that may be helpful to others in similar situations.
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