Conversational Agents in Palliative Care: Potential Benefits, Risks, and Next Steps

Yael Schenker, Saeed Abdullah, Robert Arnold, Kathryn Schmitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Conversational agents (sometimes called chatbots) are technology-based systems that use artificial intelligence to simulate human-to-human conversations. Research on conversational agents in health care is nascent but growing, with recent reviews highlighting the need for more robust evaluations in diverse settings and populations. In this article, we consider how conversational agents might function in palliative care-not by replacing clinicians, but by interacting with patients around select uncomplicated needs while facilitating more targeted and appropriate referrals to specialty palliative care services. We describe potential roles for conversational agents aligned with the core domains of quality palliative care and identify risks that must be considered and addressed in the development and use of these systems for people with serious illness. With careful consideration of risks and benefits, conversational agents represent promising tools that should be explored as one component of a multipronged approach for improving patient and family outcomes in serious illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-300
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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