Using non-pharmacological interventions is a current approach in dementia care to manage responsive behaviors, to maintain functional capacity, and to reduce emotional stress. Novel technologies such as social robot interventions might be useful to engage people with dementia in activities and interactions as well as to improve their cognitive, emotional, and physical status.
Assessing the effects and the quality of reporting of social robot interventions for people with dementia.
In our systematic review, we included quasi-experimental and experimental studies published in English, French, or German, irrespective of publication year. Searching CINAHL, Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Web of Science Core Collection was supplemented by citation tracking and free web searching. To assess the methodological quality of included studies, we used tools provided by the Joanna Briggs Institute. To assess the reporting of the interventions, we applied CReDECI 2 and TIDieR.
We identified sixteen studies published between 2012 and 2018, including two to 415 participants with mostly non-defined type of dementia. Eight studies had an experimental design. The predominant robot types were pet robots (i.e., PARO). Most studies addressed behavioral, emotion-related, and functional outcomes with beneficial, non-beneficial, and mixed results. Predominantly, cognitive outcomes were not improved. Overall, studies were of moderate methodological quality.
Heterogeneous populations, intervention characteristics, and measured outcomes make it difficult to generalize the results with regard to clinical practice. The impact of social robot interventions on behavioral, emotion-related, and functional outcomes should therefore be assessed considering the severity of dementia and intervention characteristics.