Nutrition Education Program Design Implementation and Evaluation| Volume 52, ISSUE 7, SUPPLEMENT , S94, July 2020

P164 Rewiring Texas WIC: Informing the Development of a Chatbot to Strengthen Enrollment in Texas


      Mirroring national trajectories, participation in Texas WIC has declined incrementally since 2015. In an attempt to mitigate this issue, Texas State University researchers have partnered with Texas WIC to support existing clients and facilitate enrollment of new applicants by developing a user-friendly, Texas WIC Chatbot. The success of any technological interface is predicated upon engaging stakeholders and intended users during the development process, involving a theoretical framework known as User-Centered Design. Soliciting perceptions from WIC staff on optimization of chatbot features is a crucial step in the design process.


      Assess perceptions of facilitators and barriers among Texas WIC staff regarding user acceptance of a chatbot.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      Perception of chatbot user acceptance was studied through 8 group interviews, conducted via Zoom. Participants included WIC directors and clinic staff. A semi-structured interview guide was designed to solicit discussion regarding facilitators and barriers to optimal chatbot acceptance and usage among staff and clients. Interviews focused on perceptions of technology among WIC staff and clients.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Interview data were recorded, transcribed, and themed.


      Perceived facilitators of chatbot use among staff included: providing adequate training and information regarding the chatbot, a shared plan of chatbot management, and formally promoting benefits of staff chatbot use. Perceived barriers to chatbot use among staff included: lacking general technology knowledge, lack of experience with chatbots or similar technologies, and older age. Perceptions of client facilitators to chatbot acceptance included: familiarity with chatbots or similar technologies, perceptions of low time/effort investment, and a successful initial chatbot use. Finally, perceptions of client barriers to chatbot acceptance included: anxiety towards chatbot/technology use, demographically/culturally insensitive technology, and inability of chatbot to perform touted features.


      User input from WIC staff indicated that staff perceive many benefits of chatbot implementation, staff are confident that clients will accept a chatbot, and staff barriers may be addressed with comprehensive chatbot training, prior to rollout.
      Funding: USDA, Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

      Appendix. Supplementary data