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Kognito Chosen by NORC at the University of Chicago to Provide Virtual Human Technology to Address Adolescent Substance Use

Press Release


Kognito is partnering with NORC at the University of Chicago, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the Center for Clinical Social Work (CCSW), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), and a consortium of over 60 schools of nursing and social work to develop a simulation that will allow their students to learn and practice how to effectively identify and curb substance use among adolescent.

Funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the partnership will support the integration of adolescent substance use assessment and early intervention into required coursework in undergraduate and graduate curricula for health professions. As part of the curriculum, Kognito will provide a mobile and online immersive learning simulation designed to prepare nurses and social workers to screen adolescents for substance use, perform early interventions using motivational interviewing techniques, and refer patients to treatment. This simulation will be made available to the 60 schools of social work and nursing starting January 2016.

“We are pleased to bring Kognito’s virtual human technology and learning design methodology to nurses and social workers as a way to enhance their ability to have collaborative conversations about substance use with patients as integrating substance use assessment and early intervention into routine health care expands nationwide.

Substance use screening and early intervention are evidence-based practices used to prevent, identify, and reduce problematic substance use and dependence among adolescents and young adults. It involves systematically screening individuals, assessing their level of risk, conducting a brief intervention using motivational communication techniques aimed at driving positive change in behavior, and referring patients to follow-up care when needed. Nursing and social work students will learn skills and gain confidence to engage young people in conversations about alcohol, drugs and tobacco and motivate them to implement lifestyle changes to reduce negative consequences of use before a substance use disorder develops.

In developing the simulation, Kognito will build upon its extensive experience in designing immersive practice experiences that can improve and reliably assess the competencies of users in leveraging challenging health conversations to drive meaningful and sustainable changes in health behavior, attitudes, and self-efficacy. Kognito currently offers two substance use screening and SBI-related simulation products: At-Risk in Primary Care and At-Risk in the ED help practitioners learn and practice screening patients and conducting brief interventions for mental health disorders and substance use. These simulations, approved for continuing education credits, have been licensed by hospitals, professional schools, and government agencies in Arizona, Wyoming, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. A recent study of 85 health care providers showed that these simulations result in statistically significant and sustainable changes in providers’ knowledge, skill and confidence to conduct screening and brief interventions with their patients. Study results and demos of these and other simulations by Kognito can be viewed at

“We are thrilled to partner with NORC and a prestigious group of associations and schools to bring to market a new way of teaching nurses and social workers to engage adolescent patients in screening and brief intervention conversations,” said Ron Goldman, Kognito co-founder and CEO. “Building conversation skills to effectively collaborate with patients to address substance use requires a solution that provides hands-on practice and personalized feedback. Our simulated environments with emotionally responsive virtual patients offer exactly that.”

“We believe that the Kognito simulation can become an indispensable tool to build needed skills for health practitioners.”

Dr. Eric Goplerud

Vice president

“We believe that the Kognito simulation can become an indispensable tool to build needed skills for health practitioners.”

About NORC at the University of Chicago:
NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research organization headquartered in downtown Chicago with additional offices on the University of Chicago’s campus, the DC Metro area, Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco. NORC also supports a nationwide field staff as well as international research operations. With clients throughout the world, NORC collaborates with government agencies, foundations, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to provide data and analysis that support informed decision-making in key areas, including health care, education, economics, crime, justice, and energy. NORC’s decades of leadership and experience in data collection, analysis, and dissemination—coupled with deep subject matter expertise—provide the foundation for effective solutions. Learn more about Integrating Adolescent SBIRT Throughout Social Work & Nursing School Education at:

About Kognito:
Founded in 2003, Kognito is a leader in designing immersive practice experiences that develop and assess the competencies of users in transforming challenging health conversations into opportunities to drive meaningful and sustainable changes in attitude, self-efficacy, and behavior. Kognito’s award-winning online and mobile experiences use emotionally responsive virtual humans to simulate real-life conversations within a risk-free and adaptive environment that provide personalized feedback and in-depth analytics. Kognito uses a science-driven, research-proven approach and currently has more than 450 clients in education, government, and healthcare settings. The company has been recognized for its evidence-based programs, and is the only company with digital simulations listed in the National-Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Learn more or access demos at

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