Journal article Open Access

Integrating Robot Support Functions into Varied Activities at Returning Hospital Visits

Looije, Rosemarijn; Neerincx, Mark A.; Peters, Johanna K.; Blanson-Henkemans, Olivier

Persistent progress in the self-management of their disease is important and challenging for children with diabetes. The European ALIZ-e project developed and tested a set of core functions for a social robot that may help to establish such progress. These functions were studied in different set-ups and with different groups of children (e.g. classmates at a school, or participants of a diabetes camp). This paper takes the lessons learned from these studies to design a general scenario for educational and enjoying child–robot activities during returning hospital visits. The resulting scenario entailed three sessions, each lasting almost one hour, with three educational child–robot activities (quiz, sorting game and video watching), two intervening child–robot interactions (small talk and walking), and specific tests to assess the children and their experiences. Seventeen children (age 6–10) participated in the evaluation of this scenario, which provided new insights of the combined social robot support in the real environment. Overall, the children, but also their parents and formal caregivers, showed positive experiences. Children enjoyed the variety of activities, built a relationship with the robot and had a small knowledge gain. Parents and hospital staff pointed out that the robot had positive effects on child’s mood and openness, which may be helpful for self-management. Based on the evaluation results, we derived five user profiles for further personalization of the robot, and general requirements for mediating the support of parents and caregivers.

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