What is the best way to measure the impact of social robots on residents and staff? Is there a standard questionnaire or methodology that has been used successfully by academics and gerontology experts? What data do we need to collect? These are the questions that were top-of-mind as we began the first phase of our field research.
With support from the Community Foundations of Canada/Investment Readiness Program (IRP), Social Robots signed a Collaborative Research Agreement with Sheridan College Centre for Elder Research. Leigh Hayden, PhD, started with a brief literature review to help us understand the extensive academic work that has already been done to measure the impact of social robots. She also made recommendations about which instruments would be most feasible to use in our pilot study.
Her report helped us identify some options of how best to evaluate the impact that Mindy could have. In addition, it provided valuable context for anyone who wants to understand more about the roles that social robots can fulfill. (We will share more about those roles in a forthcoming blog post!)
UCLA Loneliness Scale
There were five instruments that were identified as appropriate and validated ways to measure impact of social robots in our situation. After attempting several of the instruments in the initial few weeks of our pilot study, we realized the data collection was too onerous (given COVID pandemic restrictions) and we simply were not able to get enough responses. For the balance of the research project, we focused on the UCLA Loneliness Scale and qualitative reporting.
UCLA Loneliness Scale: A 20-item scale designed to measure one’s subjective feelings of loneliness as well as feelings of social isolation. Open-access, freely available; you can obtain an online version by clicking here. Participants rate each item as either O (“I often feel this way”), S (“I sometimes feel this way”), R (“I rarely feel this way”), N (“I never feel this way”). Reference: Russell, D , Peplau, L. A.. & Ferguson, M. L. (1978). Developing a measure of loneliness. Journal of Personality Assessment, 42, 290-294.
For ease of reference, the other four instruments that can be helpful in measuring the impact of social robots were:
Geriatric Depression Scale – short form: 15 questions, self-administered. Open-access, freely available. An online version is here. Note: numerous studies have used the GDS long form, which is 30 questions. The GDS short form has been validated and has similar performance to the GDS long form.
Quality of Life: SF-QOL-12: 12 questions, self-administered. Free, however you must obtain a license to use. A version is here.
Brief Agitation Rating Scale: 10 questions; administered by care home staff; open-access, freely available. An online version is here.
Observed Emotional Rating Scale (OERS): 5 questions; administered by care home staff (or researcher/observer); A protocol is available from Moyle and colleagues, 2014.