Developing a method to implement patient-centered social robotics for pediatric mental health within the BC healthcare system

Could a small, interactive robotic character or pet be used in a hospital to help support children’s mental health? While children are often interested in interacting with robots, the design of these devices rarely incorporates patients and families’ needs and values. For social robots to be ethically implemented in healthcare, they must be developed according to patients’ priorities, supported by high-quality scientific evidence, and well-suited to implementation by real-world healthcare providers.
To address this, I will hold co-creation workshops with children and families with a lived experience of a childhood mental health disorder to identify goals for and barriers to social robot interventions. I will also interview key health services stakeholders who would be most involved in using a robot in the hospital — nurses, CLSs, and others — about advantages, concerns, and obstacles to deploying a social robot for pediatric mental health, as well as proposing a Health Technology Assessment.
Taken together, these research findings will facilitate the development of practice and policy for the evidence-based, patient-centred deployment of social robots to improve the wellbeing of BC children experiencing mental health challenges.