Background: Socially assistive robots are increasingly used as a therapeutic tool for people with dementia, as a means to improve quality of life through social connection. This paper presents a mixed-method integrative review of telepresence robots used to improve social connection of people with dementia by enabling real-Time communication with their carers.
Methods: A systematic search of Medline, ProQuest, PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL, EMBASE, and the Cochrane library was conducted to gather available evidence on the use of telepresence robots, specifically videoconferencing, to improve social connectedness, in people with dementia. A narrative synthesis was used to analyze the included studies.
Results: A review of 1,035 records, identified four eligible peer-reviewed publications, reporting findings about three different mobile telepresence robots. The study designs included qualitative and mixed-methods approaches, focusing primarily on examining the feasibility and acceptability of the telepresence robots within the context of dementia care. These studies reported both positive outcomes of using telepresence robots to connect people with dementia to others, as well as barriers, such as a lack of experience in using a robot and technological issues.
Conclusion: Although limited, the current literature suggests that telepresence robots have potential utility for improving social connectedness of people with dementia and their carers. However, more systematic feasibility studies are needed to inform the development of telepresence robots followed by clinical trials to establish efficacy within dementia care.