'What matters to Andrew'. The problem of premissary relevance in automated health advisors. Insights from pragma-dialectics

Sara Rubinelli*, Nanon H.M. Labrie, Daniel J. O'Keefe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To influence health behavior, communication has to be relevant on an individual level and, thus, fulfill the requirement of premissary relevance. This paper attempts to enrich the design of automated health advisors by, first, reviewing main solutions to the challenge of premissary relevance found in the literature and, second, highlighting the value in this field of the theory of argumentation known as pragma-dialectics. Methods: A conceptual paper grounded in persuasion research and argumentation theory. Results: Automated health advisors enable argumentative exchanges with users. But there is a need to design these systems as to make them work in an audience-centered perspective. The theory of pragma-dialectics can be used to analyze the factors that favor or hinder the agreement of users to engage in certain health behaviors, and to identify argumentation strategies targeted to behavior change. Conclusion: Pragma-dialectics can be used to enhance the design of automated health advisors as it operationalizes the dialogical nature of the reasoning process that can influence health behavior. Practice implications: Premissary relevance is a challenge of communication for health promotion at large that can be promisingly addressed through synergies among persuasion research, argumentation theory and Artificial Intelligence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-222
Number of pages5
JournalPatient education and counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Argumentation
  • Argumentation theory
  • Automated health advisors
  • Health behavior
  • Health promotion
  • Persuasion research
  • Pragma-dialectics
  • Premissary relevance
  • Tailoring health communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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