Coaching through technology: A systematic review into efficacy and effectiveness for the ageing population

Roberta Bevilacqua, Sara Casaccia, Gabriella Cortellessa, Arlene Astell, Fabrizia Lattanzio, Andrea Corsonello, Paola D’ascoli, Susy Paolini, Mirko Di Rosa*, Lorena Rossi, Elvira Maranesi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite the evidence on the positive role of self-management, the adoption of health coaching strategies for older people is still limited. To address these gaps, recent efforts have been made in the ICT sector in order to develop systems for delivering coaching and overcoming barriers relating to scarcity of resources. The aim of this review is to examine the efficacy of personal health coaching systems for older adults using digital virtual agents. Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted in December 2019 analyzing manuscripts from four databases over the last 10 years. Nine papers were included. Results: Despite the low number of studies, there was evidence that technology-integrated interventions can deliver benefits for health over usual care. However, the review raises important questions about how to maintain benefits and permanence of behavior change produced by short-term interventions. Conclusion: These systems offer a potential tool to reduce costs, minimize therapist burden and training, and expand the range of clients who can benefit from them. It is desirable that in the future the number of studies will grow, considering other aspects such as the role of the virtual coaches’ characteristics, social-presence, empathy, usability, and health literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5930
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

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