Using Robots to Treat Children

Technological innovations have changed the way that mental health care interventions are delivered. In recent years, robots have been integrated into treatments for multiple mental health problems. To clarify public opinion regarding the integration of robots into psychological treatments, a new study published recently in Archives of Scientific Psychology assessed parents’ reaction to robot-assisted therapy as a treatment option for children with disruptive behavior problems. Parents from a community sample (N = 100) were presented with a brief clinical description of a child with disruptive behavior problems and evaluated (through treatment acceptability ratings and positive–negative evaluation scores) 3 different treatment options for that child: a robot-assisted therapy, an Internet-based treatment, and a no-treatment comparison group. Robot-assisted therapy was rated as a highly acceptable form of treatment. Parents rated it as significantly more acceptable than the no-treatment comparison group (F(1, 96) = 88.90, p < .001, partial η2 = .48) but less acceptable than an Internet-based treatment program (F(1, 96) = 4.73, p < .05, partial η2 = .05). Parents also evaluated the treatment quite positively. They viewed it as significantly more positive than the no-treatment comparison group (F(1, 96) = 153.20, p < .001, partial η2 = .62) but less acceptable than an Internet-based treatment (F(1, 96) = 9.11, p < .005, partial η2 = .09). These results suggest that robot-assisted therapy is viewed positively by the public and that it merits more attention as a treatment platform for mental health problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)

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