Use of a Social Robot (LOVOT) for Persons With Dementia: Exploratory Study

Birthe Dinesen, Helle Kidde Hansen, Gry Bruun Grønborg, Anne-Kirstine Dyrvig, Sofie Dalskov Leisted, Henrik Stenstrup, Cathrine Skov Schacksen, Claus Oestergaard

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Abstract

Background:
Approximately 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia. Social robots have been developed and tested to determine whether they improve the quality of life for persons with dementia. A new mobile social robot called LOVOT has artificial intelligence and sensor technologies built in. LOVOT, which is manufactured in Japan, has not yet been tested for use by persons with dementia.

Objective:
This study aimed to explore how the social robot LOVOT interacts with persons with dementia and how health care professionals experience working with LOVOT in their interaction with persons with dementia.

Methods:
The study was carried out at 3 nursing homes in Denmark, all with specialized units for persons with dementia. The interaction between the persons with dementia and LOVOT was tested in both individual sessions for 4 weeks and group sessions for 12 weeks. A total of 42 persons were included in the study, of which 12 were allocated to the individual sessions. A triangulation of data collection techniques was used: the World Health Organization-5 questionnaire, face scale, participant observation, and semistructured focus group interviews with health care professionals (n=3).

Results:
There were no clinically significant changes in the well-being of the persons with dementia followed in the individual or group interaction sessions over time. The results from the face scale showed that in both the individual and group sessions, persons with dementia tended to express more positive facial expressions after the sessions. Findings on how persons with dementia experienced their interaction with LOVOT can be stated in terms of the following themes: LOVOT opens up communication and interaction; provides entertainment; creates a breathing space; is accepted and creates joy; induces feelings of care; can create an overstimulation of feelings; is not accepted; is perceived as an animal; is perceived as being nondemanding; and prevents touch deprivation. Findings regarding the health care professionals’ experiences using LOVOT were as follows: the artificial behavior seems natural; and it is a communication tool that can stimulate, create feelings of security, and open up communication. Our findings indicate that the social robot is a tool that can be used in interactions with persons with dementia.

Conclusions:
The LOVOT robot is the next generation of social robots with advanced artificial intelligence. The vast majority of persons with dementia accepted the social robot LOVOT. LOVOT had positive effects, opened up communication, and facilitated interpersonal interaction. Although LOVOT did not create noticeable effects on social well-being, it gave individual persons a respite from everyday life. Some residents were overstimulated by emotions after interacting with LOVOT. Health care professionals accepted the social robot and view LOVOT as a new tool in the work with persons with dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36505
JournalJMIR Rehabilitation Assistive Technologies
Volume9
Issue number3
ISSN2369-2529
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

©Birthe Dinesen, Helle Kidde Hansen, Gry Bruun Grønborg, Anne-Kirstine Dyrvig, Sofie Dalskov Leisted, Henrik Stenstrup, Cathrine Skov Schacksen, Claus Oestergaard. Originally published in JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology (https://rehab.jmir.org), 01.08.2022.

Keywords

  • dementia
  • social robots
  • artificial intelligence
  • health care professionals
  • health care
  • persons with dementia

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