1. In this randomized control trial, researchers discovered that social robots were associated with improved affect in pediatric hospitalized patients as compared to plush toys.
2. The social robot intervention was associated with increased level of joyfulness and decreased levels of sadness as compared to a tablet-based avatar of a bear or a plush teddy bear.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Study Rundown: Though the use of robotics is expanding throughout medicine, the feasibility of social robots in inpatient pediatric settings for affect regulation has yet to be explored. In this study, researchers analyzed the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of social robots in inpatient pediatric settings to improve patient affect. Researchers compared the social robot intervention to both a tablet-based avatar of a bear and a plush teddy bear. Though researchers found some limitations to the intervention, largely related to implementation of the technology, there was overall acceptability given the high participation rate and reported desire to interact with the social robots again. There was a statistically significant difference in affect between children assigned to the social robot intervention and those assigned to the plush toy intervention: those interacting with the social robot reported a significantly more positive affect. Social robots were also associated with increased level of joyfulness and decreased levels of sadness as compared to a tablet-based avatar of a bear or a plush teddy bear. Though the study is limited by its small sample size and the intervention itself limited by feasibility, particularly in low resource settings, it does offer a novel intervention which demonstrated unique efficacy for supporting hospitalized pediatric patients through emotionally challenging circumstances.
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