Interactive Voice Response Technology (IVR)

The underlying technology used in most of our research is Interactive Voice Response or IVR (see diagram above). IVR is a method for interaction between an individual and a computer through the medium of a telephone using the touch-tone keypad. Research participants use their telephone to call a toll-free number and answer an automated questionnaire which uses a branching logic format. Participants answer daily questions by keying in responses using their telephone's keypad and the participant's answers go directly into a computer where their data are coded and saved into a database. IVR offers particular benefits to patients as a self-monitoring and/or intervention method. These include convenience, simplicity of use, and a high level of patient comfort in reporting even highly sensitive material.

IVR systems have been successfully used to supplement behavioral interventions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression and alcohol use. In response to the need for relapse prevention, Dr. Naylor developed the Therapeutic IVR system (TIVR) to enhance the maintenance of treatment gains following pain coping skills training. The TIVR has four components:

  1. Daily self monitoring (Daily Questionnaire)
  2. Didactic review of pain coping skills
  3. Guided behavioral rehearsal of skills
  4. Monthly therapist feedback (Monthly Message)

Researchers access the IVR via computer to download data in order to analyze for reports or, in many cases, for personalized feedback. The researcher then uses the same telephone system to record confidential, personalized messages or feedback so that a particular research participant can access it privately.