Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (2.11 MB)
Download file

Analysis of doctor-patient consultations and implications for design of human-agent relational dialogue

Download (2.11 MB)
posted on 2022-09-05, 04:34 authored by Sana Salman

Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs) are virtual agents that exhibit humanlike verbal and non-verbal behaviours. When it comes to digital health, ECAs can provide vital support to patients by being more reachable. In order to make ECAs more effective, humanlike empathy expressed during conversation through relational cues is essential. Empathy revolves around a wide range of verbal and non-verbal behaviours that include, for example, the choice of words in social dialogues. Owing to the COVID-19 situation, there was an opportunity to record online consultations in the Incontinence Clinic and Sleep Clinic at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, Australia. The present study analysed these human dialogues using qualitative research methods to understand the role of empathic dialogue used by the medical team. The qualitative analysis of the live calls used psychology-based relational cues derived from conversational characteristics of humans to build a coding framework around the most relevant themes. Statistical analysis was used to compare relational cue usage between healthcare roles. Finally, using the framework dialogues of the medical team and two ECAs known as Dr Evie (eVirtual Agent for Incontinence and Enuresis) and SAM (Sleep Adherence Mentor) were compared to provide recommendations for health practitioners and future ECA dialogue development.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction – Chapter 2: Literature Review – Chapter 3: Methodology – Chapter 4: Results & Discussions – Chapter 5: Conclusion – References -- Appendices


Empirical thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Research (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Department of Computing, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Macquarie University

Department, Centre or School

Department of Computing

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Deborah Richards


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




68 pages

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses