Why Psychiatrists Are Skeptical of AI
Wed, April 21, 2021

Why Psychiatrists Are Skeptical of AI

Psychiatrists are hesitant to use AI because they believe AI technologies will have no influence and would most likely never be able to provide empathic care / Credits: metamorworks via Shutterstock


The World Health Organization estimated that more than 450 million people are currently suffering from mental or neurological disorders, which is equivalent to 1 in four people. This places mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability across the world. To address this, experts suggested using artificial intelligence to offer help and support for people struggling with their mental health.

For instance, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder applied machine learning and AI in psychiatry through a speech-based mobile app that can categorize a patient’s mental health status better than a human can. According to Health Europa, an online site that brings you up to the minute news and developments from across the EU healthcare and social care news sector, the app could notify the patient’s doctor to check in if the app detected a worrisome change. 

“We found that the computer’s AI models can be at least as accurate as clinicians. Patients often need to be monitored with frequent clinical interviews by trained professionals to avoid costly emergency care and unfortunate events, but there are simply not enough clinicians for that,” Peter Foltz, a research professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science and co-author of the paper, said. 

However, many psychiatrists are skeptical of AI. A recent survey published in Artificial Intelligence in Medicine revealed that 48.7% of psychiatrists said they believe AI technologies will have no influence, 47% said their jobs may see a moderate change, and 3.8% said AI could replace them altogether. According to AI in Healthcare, an online site that focuses on innovation in transform healthcare, 83% of the respondents said AI would most likely never be able to provide empathic care.

“We speculate there may be several explanations for the skepticism expressed by the doctors. One possibility is they are cautious of the hype around AI, especially given AI’s many boom and bust cycles over the past five decades, and placing a high value on human interaction and personalized professional analysis,” the authors wrote.