Background/Purpose: Since being designated a super-aged society in 2007, Japan has faced a shortage of care givers working at nursing facilities. To address this problem, the government has been promoting research into robotics technology. However, social robots in current use have limited communicative ability. We examined the effectiveness of a tele-operated android robot in reminiscence group therapy (RGT) for persons with dementia (PWD), compared to RGT with a human coordinator. Method: Six PWD from a public facility for senior residents underwent RGT using a tele-operated android robot, Telenoid R3. Participants were divided into two groups: RGT with a human coordinator (condition 1), and RGT with the same coordinator, using Telenoid R3 (condition 2). After the first three sessions, the robot and the human coordinator were substituted in each group, and three more sessions were conducted. Linguistic data comprising the number of utterances, sentence-final particles, and N-gram was collected and analyzed. Results: Among participants, half (n = 3) showed a significantly higher average number of utterances and sentence-final particles in RGT with condition 1 (p < .01, p < .05, p < .01), while one female participant showed a significantly higher number of sentence-final particles in RGT with the Telenoid R3 (p < .05). There was no between-group difference in entropy of N-grams among subjects. Conclusion: These results suggest that RGT by tele-operated robot can promote communication in a way similar to that of human-facilitated RGT. We conclude that RGT using a tele-operated robot may increase communication opportunities for people who are unable to present to nursing facilities.
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