Objectives: This study aimed to examine the effect of 8-weeks of a 60-minute PARO intervention to reduce depressive symptoms and loneliness in older adults with dementia and investigated changes in their emotional or behavioral expressions and level of engagement with the PARO robot.
Methods: This was a quasi-experimental study with a repeated measures design. The outcome measures were evaluated at four time-points: before the intervention, week 4, immediately after the intervention, and one month after the PARO intervention.
Results: Fifty-two participants were recruited. The age of the participants ranged from 65 to 96 years, with a mean age of 81.81 years (SD = 8.54) in the PARO group and 79.08 years (SD = 7.71) in the control group. Using a mixed between-within subjects’ analysis of variance, the results showed that there were significant interaction effects between the groups and time-periods for depression (p <.000), loneliness (p <.000), and engagement (p <.000).
Conclusions: The PARO intervention alleviated depression and loneliness for older adults. Furthermore, the process of engagement with PARO may play an important role in the PARO effects. Clinical Implications: A tailored PARO intervention of at least 4 weeks could engender positive psychological benefits for older adults.