Social robots for depression in older adults: A systematic review

Shu Chuan Chen*, Cindy Jones, Wendy Moyle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of studies using social robots to improve psychological well-being. This systematic review investigates the effect of social robot interventions for depression in older adults. Methods: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) method was used to identify and select existing studies. Nine electronic databases were searched for relevant studies. Methodological quality was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute Meta-Analysis of Statistics Assessment and Review Instrument. Screening, data extraction, and synthesis were performed by three reviewers. Inclusion criteria covered original quantitative studies investigating social robots for depression in older adults. Findings: Seven studies were identified—six randomized controlled trials and one comparison study—with all classified as good quality. Social robot interventions consisted of companion, communication, and health-monitoring robots. Three studies presented promising outcomes for reducing depressive symptoms in older adults following social robot interventions, and three studies showed decreased, but nonsignificant, trends in depression scores. Conclusions: The results highlight the potential of social robot interventions for reducing depression in older adults. However, the evidence is not strong enough to formulate recommendations on clinical effectiveness. Clinical Relevance: Social robots are being used with increasing frequency to potentially provide personal support to older adults living in long-term care facilities. Social robots can be used to help alleviate depressive symptoms when used in group activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-622
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


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