The impact of social robots on young patients' socio-emotional wellbeing in a pediatric inpatient care context
Program in Media Arts and Sciences (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
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In this thesis, I explore how interactive technologies can positively impact human wellness and flourishing. I investigate this in the context of pediatric inpatient care. Children and their parents may undergo challenging experiences when admitted for inpatient care at pediatric hospitals. While most hospitals make efforts to provide socio-emotional support for patients and their families during care, gaps still exist between human resource supply and demand. The Huggable project aims to close this gap by creating a social robot able to mitigate stress and anxiety and to promote positive affect and physical activity in pediatric patients by engaging them in playful interactive activities. We ran a randomized controlled trial study at a local pediatric hospital to study how three different interactive mediums (a plush teddy bear, a virtual agent on a screen and a social robot) affects the child patient's physical activity, affect, joyful play, stress and anxiety. In this thesis, I analyze the social, emotional, linguistic and physical behaviors of the patients, caretakers and medical staff with the video data collected during the Huggable study. Results from the behavioral analyses show that a social robot promotes more physical movement, more emotional verbal expressions, and more dynamic patient-caretaker-medical staff interaction than the virtual character and the plush interventions. Then, I extend the findings from the in-hospital experiment and develop an autonomous virtual avatar mobile application that provides personalized positive psychology interventions. A three-week longitudinal study with smartphone users showed that the interactive virtual avatar resulted an immediate improvement on people's affect and the users' engagement with the avatar increased over time due to the personalization algorithm implemented in the system. The findings from the randomized clinical trial in the pediatric hospital and the longitudinal study with smartphone users suggest the potential benefit of an autonomous and personalized social robot in pediatric inpatient-care contexts on young patients' social and emotional wellbeing.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Planning, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, 2017.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. Page 82 blank.Includes bibliographical references (pages 76-81).
DepartmentProgram in Media Arts and Sciences (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program in Media Arts and Sciences ()