Humanoid socially assistive robots in dementia care: a qualitative study about expectations of caregivers and dementia trainers

Julia Zuschnegg, Lucas Paletta, Maria Fellner, Josef Steiner, Sandra Pansy-Resch, Anna Jos, Marisa Koini, Dimitrios Prodromou, Ruud J G Halfens, Christa Lohrmann, Sandra Schüssler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Web of Science)


OBJECTIVE: To examine the expectations of informal caregivers, nurses, and dementia trainers regarding the support of (physical and psychosocial) human needs by humanoid social assistive robots (SARs) in dementia care.

METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted with 11 homogeneous focus groups of informal caregivers, nurses and dementia trainers providing dementia care at home, in adult daycare centers, or in nursing homes. A qualitative content analysis was performed using a concept- and data-driven coding frame.

RESULTS: Focus group discussions with 52 individuals were held. Participants reported mostly positive expectations and stated that SARs could offer potential support in all components of human needs, especially in avoiding danger (e.g. recognise danger, organise help), communication/contact with others (e.g. enable telephone calls, provide company), daily activities (e.g. remind of appointments, household obligations), recreational activities (e.g. provide music), eating/drinking (e.g. help cook), and mobility/body posture (e.g. give reminders/instructions for physical exercise). Participants also mentioned some negative expectations in all human needs, predominantly in communication/contact with others (e.g. loss of interpersonal interaction) and avoiding danger (e.g. scepticism regarding emergencies).

CONCLUSION: Participants stated that SARs had great potential to provide assistance in dementia care, especially by reminding, motivating/encouraging and instructing people with dementia. Informal caregivers and nurses also considered them as useful supportive devices for themselves. However, participants also mentioned negative expectations, especially in communication/contact with others and avoiding danger. These findings demonstrate the support caregivers and dementia trainers expect from humanoid SARs and may contribute to their optimisation for dementia care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1270-1280
Number of pages11
JournalAging & Mental Health
Issue number6
Early online date27 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022



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