Table 2

Results from user studies included in the review, including participant details, outcome studied and findings (note: n/a = not applicable)

SourceSample; participant number; age*Outcomes consideredFindings/conclusions
Cheetham et al 33 n/a (reported elsewhere)Robot implementability; user evaluation; technical issuesRobots successful in providing telepresence; some technical issues
Fels et al 34 Chronic renal failure; n=3; 9–12 yearsBehavioural outcomes (communication, concentration, initiative); perceptions of the robot (by children, parents, and staff); academic performanceCommunication and initiative behaviours occurred at high frequencies for short durations, concentration behaviours remained consistently high; trend towards less communication interactions over time; most reported positive perceptions of robot
Kimura et al 35 Hospitalised children; unknown; 1–19 yearsChildren’s mood; how children interacted with robot; human companion in the interaction; user evaluation; communications between staff, children and parentsChildren’s mood improved; human companion enhanced the child–robot interaction; communications between inpatient children and staff increased
Looije et al 28 Children without identified health conditions; n=24 (20); 8–9 yearsUser evaluation (fun, acceptance, empathy, trust); performance (efficiency, learning effect)Children valued physical and virtual iCat more than text interface, interacted faster with iCat character compared with text interface; All interfaces rated highly; Suggests iCat useful to implement and test
Marti et al 21 Disabilities; n=5; 6–11 yearsUsability; acceptability; suitability to achieve learning objectivesChildren were interested in engaging with robot and understood tasks; several technical issues; robot played a different role in group vs. individual sessions and stimulated different interactions; Robot not perceived as a social agent due to its functional design
Bernd et al 18 Intellectual disabilities; n=3; 3–5 yearsPlayfulness of children; children’s functioning; user evaluation (by the therapists)Playfulness scores varied—no significant difference between robot and traditional therapy sessions; robot evaluation scores both increased (2/3 children), and decreased (1/3); Therapist evaluations suggested robot appreciated by therapist and children, robot added value but better matching to children’s needs required
Díaz et al 15 Children without identified health conditions; n=37†; 11–12 yearsChildren’s interaction with the robots (attitudes, preferences, behaviours, attributions and roles)Robot features effect children’s preferences, perceptions and expectations, which influences their interactions via role attribution; different responses were elicited for each robot: appearance and purpose of robot should be considered during design
Klein et al 43 Developmental disabilities; n=3; 3–5 yearsPlayfulness of child; functional behaviour of child; subjective assessment of the robot by the therapistRobot partly met needs of the children and therapists; positive impact on play found for two children; robot may be useful in supporting children with developmental disabilities by enriching play, but long-term effect unknown
Lehmann et al 16 Cognitive and social disabilities; n=10; average 8.3 yearsEducational objectives achieved by the children; comparison of the interactions with different robotsOnly preliminary analyses presented: robots appear to have positive influence on development; preferences and level of success for the different play scenarios and robots differed by child; potential for robots as therapeutic tools
Lu et al 44 Unknown; unknown; 3–7 yearsChildren’s enjoyment of robot companionn/a (study not completed)
Ros Espinoza et al 45 Diabetes; N and age reported elsewhereDiscusses observations, challenges and lessons learnt from previous studiesChild–robot studies require careful thought
Ros et al 46 Diabetes; n=2; 7 and 11 yearsObservations of the child–robot interactionsRobot should be designed to adapt to user’s capabilities; children enjoyed the robot
Saint-Aimé et al 20 Children without identified health conditions; n=13; 3–5 yearsQuality of the child–robot interactionRobot did not achieve companion goal; encounter may have been stressful; questionnaire data contradicted observational data; suggested improvements for robot and study protocol
Csala et al 47 Hospitalised children; n=3; 4–14 yearsCould robot be implemented; acceptance of robot; user evaluation of the robotRobot accepted by the children, positive feedback from children, staff and parents; robot appropriate for environment; suggested improvements
Looije et al 29 Children without identified health conditions; n=11 (10); average 11.1 yearsLearning/performance; attention; motivationNo differences between robot and virtual agent on learning task or motivation; robot attracted more attention than virtual agent, preferred by the children; robot has potential as learning companion
Besio et al 19 Cerebral palsy; n=4; 4–8 yearsPrompts provided by therapist during the child–robot interaction (intensity, type, goal)Number of prompts to help child understand how to play with robot decreased across sessions; prompts for playfulness and engaging the child remained constant; suggests robot not of added value in therapy, as robot did not meet play needs of the children
Calderita et al 50 Upper limb motor deficits; n=6; 3–7 yearsMotor function; satisfaction (of child); acceptability of the robot/user evaluation (from children, parents and staff)Only preliminary results presented: physical appearance of robot satisfactory; children found sessions enjoyable and motivating; staff found sessions positive and recorded data was useful; a high level of engagement achieved, with motivation and adherence to treatment maintained
Csala et al 51 Hospitalised children; unknown N and agen/aInitial feedback positive
De Greef et al 52 Hospitalised children; n=13; 7–11 yearsInteraction and engagement with the robot; preferences of activities to engage in with the robotOnly preliminary results presented: typically children were engaged with the robot; children had varying approaches to switching between activities
Okita26 Hospitalised children; n=36; 6–16 yearsPain ratings (by child, and by parent); children’s and parents’ anxiety (positive and negative emotional traits)Greater decreases in pain and anxiety for children who interacted with the robot together with their parents than those without their parents
Alemi et al 24 Cancer; n=11 (6); 6–10 yearsAnxiety; anger; depression,Children in experimental group had reductions in anxiety, anger and depression compared with control
Baroni et al 54 Diabetes; n=70; 9–13 yearsSuggestions from children with diabetes, siblings and parents about how robot could provide supportRobot used for entertainment, self-management support, knowledge, increasing self-confidence and motivation, as a sensitive listener, and to attract attention
Calderita et al 55 Children without identified health conditions; n=35; 4–9 yearsPerception of the robot as a social entity or artificial machine (by child); robot behaviour and attitude (by independent observer); observations of the interactionChildren perceived robot as a social rather than artificial entity; interaction was usually fluent; enjoyment and neutral states were the most frequently displayed, with boredom present at the beginning of sessions; most of the time children played with robot
Fridin et al 27 Cerebral palsy and children without identified health conditions; n=25 (23); mean age 5.7 (cerebral palsy); 3.3 years (without identified conditions)Interaction level; motor performanceChildren with cerebral palsy had higher interaction level with the robot but worse motor performance compared with typically developing children; robot was feasible for use with pre-school aged children, able to engage and motivate children with cerebral palsy to engage in exercises
Kozyavkin et al 56 Cerebral palsy; n=6; 4–9 yearsUser evaluation of the robot (via interview with children and their parents)All children liked rehabilitation sessions with the robot and would like it in future sessions; suggestions for improvement offered by parents
Kruijff-Korbayová et al 30 Diabetes; n=59; 11–14 yearsEffect of off-activity talk (OAT) on perception of the robot, interest in further engagement and adherence to nutritional diaryNo effect of OAT on children’s perception of robot or adherence to nutritional diary; OAT and NOAT conditions combined had increased adherence compared with control condition; OAT condition more interested to have another session with robot compared with no OAT condition
Özkul et al 61 Hearing impaired; n=31; 7–16 yearsRecognition rate/error rate by platform and sign, user evaluationSome differences between preferred robot; some signs were better recognised than others; children with different levels of hearing impairment and sign language ability were motivated to play the games; Support for use of game to increase recognition rate
Vélez et al 62 Children (non-specified); n=3; 3–6 yearsEmpathy and apathy level (specifically by measuring aspect, voice and movements)Child–robot interaction in all cases manifested as empathy (not apathy), suggested children found the robot appearance likeable
Albo-Canals et al 63 Unknownn/aEnhancing child–robot interaction engagement through cloud connectivity can improve use of robot in treatment
Jeong et al 66 Hospitalised children; n=4; 5–10 yearsBehaviours of children and parents during robot and virtual character interactionsPreliminary qualitative results suggest preference for robot but more data and analyses required
Köse et al 67 Hearing impaired; n=31; 7–16 yearsRecognition rate/error rate by platform and sign; user evaluationSome differences between preferred robot; some signs better recognised than others; children with different levels of hearing impairment and sign language ability were motivated to play with robots; physical embodiment of robot can improve children’s performance, engagement and motivation
Rahman et al 69 Cerebral palsy; n=2; 9 and 13 yearsClinical experiences; challenges encounteredPotential for use of robot in rehabilitation; challenges identified (eg, difficulty for the robot in interpreting child with speech impediment, need for therapist assistance, etc)
Alemi et al 25 Cancer; n=11 (10); 7–12 yearsAnxiety; anger; depressionChildren in the experimental group showed reductions in anxiety, anger and depression, compared with control
Al-Taee et al 70 Diabetes; n=37; 6–16 yearsAcceptability of robot; user evaluation of the robot (what features were desirable)Robot accepted by patients and parents, some differences between age groups; ability for blood glucose advice was desirable; companion function was less desirable
Bonarini et al 72 Neurodevelopmental disorders; n=11†; 3 years and 6–10 yearsObserved behaviours/responses of the childrenPreliminary support that robot elicits social interaction, operational behaviours and emotional responses and robot may be integrated into neurodevelopmental disorder therapy
Børsting et al 73 Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome; n=9 (2); 12–16 yearsAccess to school and social participation; robot implementation; user evaluation of robot (with children, parents and teachers)Generally positive feedback provided, suggested robot could connect child to school and social relations; some technical issues
Cañamero et al 74 Diabetes; n=17; unknown ageDiscusses user evaluation and implementabilityInitial pilot interactions positive
Díaz-Boladeras et al 75 Inpatient and outpatient children; n=unknown†; 2–13 yearsImplementation of the robot; interactions with the robot; user evaluation of the robotRobot found to mediate and facilitate interactions between different participants; Robot took on role of distractor, toy and companion
Larriba et al 22 Hospitalised children; unknown N and ageTechnical functioning of the robot; observations of the robot interactionsWireless communication between robot and Android device was achieved; some issues remain (eg, lack of robustness and reactivity)
Looije et al 17 Diabetes; n=17; 6–10 yearsEvaluation of the robot and scenarios used; how the child interacted with the robot; perceptions of the robot (from children, parents, medical staff)Children, parents, and medical staff had positive experiences with robot; five user profiles were derived to aid further personalisation; conclusive evidence from analysis of specific metrics was not found
Malik et al 76 Cerebral palsy; n=2; 5 and 14 yearsGross motor functional measurement, time up and go and trail making test tests; human–robot interaction attentionOnly preliminary results presented: suggests children demonstrated positive responses; study contributed a measurement for attention during human-robot interaction
Martí Carillo et al 23 Cerebral palsyTime costs (eg, how long it took to position the robot, place auxiliary aids, help robot keep pace); implementationSome time costs and issues; physiotherapists willing to implement the robot; patients seemed engaged
Neerincx et al 78 Diabetes; n=3, unknown, n=55†; 10–14 years and 8–11 yearsWords and behaviours that indicate sentiment and emotion of Dutch and Italian childrenChildren responded positively to the robot; some cultural differences observed; highlights need for robot to accommodate cultural differences
Robles-Bykbaev et al 79 Cerebral palsy and communication disorders; n=29; unknown agePerformance in phonological, morphological and semantic areas of speech therapyChildren adapted quickly to the robot; children in robot group scored better in phonological area than control group; similar results observed in the morphological and semantic areas too, but not statistically significant
Sequeira et al 80 Hospitalised children; unknown N and ageRobot integration into environment; human–robot interaction; acceptability; user evaluation (children, staff, parents, visitors)Acceptance of the robot was high; suggests that social robots may be positively used in socially difficult environments
Swift-Spong et al 32 Overweight; n=22 (18); 11–14 yearsEnjoyment of physical activity; intrinsic motivation for physical activity; activity levels; user evaluation (reactions to the robot back stories); other measures not discussed in this paperNo differences found between robot with different backstories; participants reacted positively to the robot as exercise buddy; no differences in preintervention and postintervention assessments, although trend towards increased intrinsic motivation was observed
Yasemin et al 82 Dental; n=33; 4–10 yearsHeart rate; affect; treatment willingnessOnly preliminary results presented: suggests anxiety and pain during dental treatment was reduced by robot
Blanson Henkemans et al 14 Diabetes; n=27; 7–14 yearsSelf-determination determinants (autonomy, competence, relatedness); pleasure; motivation to play quiz; diabetes knowledge; engagement with robotDiabetes knowledge improved in both robot groups compared with control; personalised robot group higher on self-determination theory determinants, rated robot more pleasurable, answered more diabetes questions correctly, more engaged, more motivated to play the quiz compared with neutral robot group
Martí Carillo et al 85 Cerebral palsy; n=39†; unknown and 3–16 yearsPhase 1: roles, requirements and acceptability of the robot; phase 2: robot performance/fulfilment of system requirements; perceptions of robot; therapeutic benefitPhase 1: effective uses of robot established; key roles determined; observations of patients indicated improved compliance with therapist instructions and increased motivation with robot; phase 2: ongoing
Van den Heuvel et al 86 Physical disabilities; n=11; 18 months−19 yearsEffectiveness of assistive technology; level of playfulness; user evaluation; feasibility; usability; barriersRobot had positive effect on achieving predetermined goals; children evaluated the interaction positively; playfulness slightly increased; several usability/technical issues identified (eg, instability of the robot).
  • *Entries with an †indicate there were multiple studies published in the publication. Numbers in brackets are the number of participants that were analysed.