International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 607–620 | Cite as

Assistive Robotic Technology to Combat Social Isolation in Acute Hospital Settings

  • Miguel SarabiaEmail author
  • Noel Young
  • Kelly Canavan
  • Trudi Edginton
  • Yiannis Demiris
  • Marcela P. Vizcaychipi


Social isolation in hospitals is a well established risk factor for complications such as cognitive decline and depression. Assistive robotic technology has the potential to combat this problem, but first it is critical to investigate how hospital patients react to this technology. In order to address this question, we introduced a remotely operated NAO humanoid robot which conversed, made jokes, played music, danced and exercised with patients in a London hospital. In total, 49 patients aged between 18–100 took part in the study, 7 of whom had dementia. Our results show that a majority of patients enjoyed their interaction with NAO. We also found that age and dementia significantly affect the interaction, whereas gender does not. These results indicate that hospital patients enjoy socialising with robots, opening new avenues for future research into the potential health benefits of a social robotic companion.


Assistive robotic technology Social robot Human–robot interaction Hospital patients Ageing Dementia 



We would like to thank all the staff at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for their support in conducting the trials. In particular, we thank Vino Loganathan and Naz Nordin for introducing Junior to the patients as well as Paulo Guiran Pestana and Rachel-Hannah Strong for their great effort documenting the interactions. Last but certainly not least, we would like to acknowledge all the patients who took part in the trials. This research was supported by: a Doctoral Training Award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to MS; a research fellowship from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to NY; Fund 556, Education & Research Fund from the CW Health Charity to Rachel Hannah-Strong and Paulo Guiran Pestana; and EU projects ALIZ-E (FP7-248116) and PAL (H2020-643783) to YD.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel Sarabia
    • 1
    Email author
  • Noel Young
    • 2
  • Kelly Canavan
    • 2
  • Trudi Edginton
    • 3
  • Yiannis Demiris
    • 1
  • Marcela P. Vizcaychipi
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Personal Robotics Lab, Department of Electrical and Electronic EngineeringImperial CollegeLondonUK
  2. 2.Magill Department of Anaesthesia, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain ManagementChelsea and Westminster HospitalLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WestminsterLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of MedicineImperial CollegeLondonUK

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