Ensure that the methodology for the evaluation of social robots for older adults with and without dementia is appropriate for the purpose of the study, to strengthen the results of the study.
Explanation and examples
Social robots are seen promising for supporting daily functioning and promoting overall social health of cognitively impaired older people, particularly those with dementia. Our scoping review into methodologies used to study the feasibility, usability, efficacy, and effectiveness of social robots for elderly adults with and without dementia showed that, despite promising results, the quality of studies remains low due to various methodological limitations. We have therefore formulated recommendations focusing on different types of studies that can help future researchers develop appropriate study designs to evaluate social robots, allowing for more reliable information on study outcomes:
- For feasibility and usability studies an experimental design with mixed-methods of data collection (qualitative and quantitative) are recommended. Multiple interaction sessions with the social robot are recommended as they may reveal changes in feasibility and usability, when the novelty effect gradually fades and people get used to the robot.
- Appropriate designs for efficacy and effectiveness studies are RCTs, or quasi-experimental designs when randomization is not feasible. Sample sizes should be sufficiently large, and individual interaction sessions with the social robot running for more than one month would serve best for such studies to obtain relatively robust and reliable results. Efficacy and effectiveness should only be studied in fully functioning social robots.
- It is strongly recommended not to combine different aims in one study. The preferred designs to study the feasibility and usability of a social robot, differ significantly from the designs needed to study efficacy or effectiveness.
ThemesCommunity setting Effectiveness Efficacy Feasibility Methodologies Social robots Study design Usability
Target groupsResearchers Social robot designers/developers
Type of evidence
Aysan Mahmoudi Asl, Mauricio Molinari Ulate, Manuel Franco Martin; Henriëtte van der Roest (2022). Methodologies Used to Study the Feasibility, Usability, Efficacy, and Effectiveness of Social Robots For Elderly Adults: Scoping Review. J Med Internet Res 2022;24(8):e37434 doi.org/10.2196/37434