Do you care for robots that care? Exploring the opinions of vocational care students on the use of healthcare robots

Margo A.M. van Kemenade*, Johan F. Hoorn, Elly A. Konijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: There has been a rapid increase in the population of senior citizens in many countries. The shortage of caregivers is becoming a pressing concern. Robots are being deployed in an attempt to fill this gap and reduce the workload of caregivers. This study explores how healthcare robots are perceived by trainee care professionals. Methods: A total of 2365 students at different vocational levels completed a questionnaire, rating ethical statements regarding beneficence, maleficence, justice, autonomy, utility, and use intentions with regard to three different types of robots (assistive, monitoring, and companion) along with six control variables: gender, age, school year, technical skills, interest in technology, and enjoying working with computers. The scores were analyzed by MANOVA statistics. Results: In relation to our research questions: All students viewed companion robots as more beneficent than monitoring and assistive robots. Level of education did not lead to any differences in appraisal. Participants rated maleficence lowest and the highest scores were given to autonomy and utility, meaning a positive evaluation of the use of healthcare robots. Surprisingly, all students rated use intentions low, indicating a poor motivation to actually use a robot in the future, although participants stated a firmer intention for using monitoring devices. Conclusion: Care students find robots useful and expect clients to benefit from them, but still are hesitant to use robots in their future practice. This study suggests that it would be wise to enrich the curriculum of intermediate care education with practical classes on the use and ethical implications of care robots, to ensure that this group of trainee care professionals fully understand the possibilities and potential downside of this emerging kind of healthcare technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalRobotics
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Beneficence
  • Healthcare robots
  • Maleficence
  • Use intentions
  • Utility
  • Vocational care students

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