How do older adults experience and perceive socially assistive robots in aged care: a systematic review of qualitative evidence

Aging Ment Health. 2018 Feb;22(2):149-167. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2017.1286455. Epub 2017 Feb 9.


Objectives: The aim of this review was to gain a better understanding of how older adults experience, perceive, think, and feel about the use of socially assistive robots (SARs) in aged care settings.

Method: We conducted a literature search for studies that used a qualitative or a mixed-method approach having a significant qualitative element. Pubmed, Cinahl, Embase, Scopus, and Web of Science electronic databases were queried. Candidate articles published in journals and conference proceedings were considered for review. Two independent reviewers assessed the included studies for methodological quality using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program, after which data on subjects' self-reported opinions and perceptions were extracted and synthesized using thematic analyses.

Results: Seventeen studies producing 23 publications were included. Based on the opinions of older adults, four themes emerged in relation to the use of SARS: (1) roles of a SAR; (2) interaction between the older adult and the SAR, which could be further subdivided into (a) the technical aspect of the interaction and (b) the human aspect of the interaction; (3) appearance of the SAR; and (4) normative/ethical issues regarding the use of SARs in aged care.

Conclusions: Older adults have clear positive and negative opinions about different aspects of SARs in aged care. Nonetheless, some opinions can be ambiguous and need more attention if SARs are to be considered for use in aged care. Understanding older adults' lived experiences with SARs creates the possibility of using an approach that embeds technological innovation into the care practice itself.

Keywords: Elderly; aged care; lived experiences; robotics; socially assistive robots.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Health Services for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Robotics*
  • Self-Help Devices
  • Social Perception