The University of Sheffield
Research Protocol Study Proposal Social Robots in Hospital (1).docx (723.49 kB)

Research Protocol Study Proposal: Social Robots in Hospital

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posted on 2023-01-26, 16:06 authored by Brenda LittlerBrenda Littler, Luc de Witte, Christine Smith, Paul DimitriPaul Dimitri

Children who visit the hospital can experience a range of negative emotions, such as anxiety, distress and worry. Studies have shown that social robots have the potential of reducing negative emotions (Jibb et al., 2018). Social robots are autonomous robots that communicate and interact with humans through speech and movements (Huijnen et al., 2016). They are designed to act in a naturalistic way by using body language or vocalisation rather than a keypad (Collins et al., 2015). Social robots are currently being used to motivate children, teach social behaviours and support children with several physical disabilities. 

This project aims to explore the interactions between paediatric patients and social robots. The study will aim to recruit 40 paediatric patients aged  5 to 12, who are visiting the Sheffield Children Hospital for a medical appointment. The study will be introducing three different types of social robots into five different hospital settings at the Sheffield Children’s hospital. The first robot that will be used is called Miro, an animal-like robot, the second one is NAO, a small humanoid robot, and the third one is Pepper, a tall humanoid robot. The humanoid robots will be programmed to talk and perform actions while interacting with each paediatric patient.

This study will be observing the types of interactions that occur between the child and the robot as well as the emotional impact the robot has on the child.  The observation will be video record with the aim to understand what types of play occur between robots and the child when given the space to express themselves. Feedback and opinions from the parents/carers and health-related professionals will be collected, through questionnaires and interviews. The study will take place in five different settings within the hospital, allowing us to examine the feasibility of having social robots in the hospital. The study is being performed as a collaboration between Sheffield Children’s Hospital, University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. 

This project has received ethics approval.

The REC reference: 20/NW/0242. 

IRAS project ID: 274291




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