OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of a social robot intervention on sleep and motor activity in nursing home residents living with dementia and chronic pain.
METHOD: A pilot randomized controlled trial was conducted with 41 residents from three Australian nursing homes. People living with dementia and chronic pain were randomized into either a 30-minute daily social robot (PARO) condition or a usual care condition for six weeks. Sleep and motor activity were assessed by actigraphy at four-time points: week 0 at baseline, week one, week six, and after the intervention. Data were reduced into daytime (8:00am - 7:59pm) and night-time (8:00pm - 7:59am) summaries. Change scores for each time point compared with baseline were computed for data analysis and the generalized estimating equation model with imbalanced baseline values added as covariates were performed.
RESULTS: At week one, residents in the PARO group had a greater increase in the night sleep period (1.81, 95 % CI: 0.22-3.84, p = 0.030, Cohen's d = 0.570). At week six, residents in the PARO group showed a greater increase in daytime wakefulness (1.91, 95 % CI: 0.09-3.73, p = 0.042, Cohen's d = 0.655) and a greater reduction in daytime sleep (-1.35, 95 % CI: -2.65 to -0.05, p = 0.040, Cohen's d = 0.664). No significant results were found for motor activity.
CONCLUSION: PARO could improve sleep patterns for nursing home residents living with dementia and chronic pain, but the effect of PARO on motor activity needs further research. Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12618000082202).