Towards a Holistic Approach to Studying Human-Robot Interaction in Later Life

Oded Zafrani, Galit Nimrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Implementation of robotics technology in eldercare depends on successful human-robot interaction (HRI). Relying on a systematic literature review, this article proposes a holistic approach to the study of such interaction. A literature search was carried out in five databases. A Boolean phrase search included the term robot and at least one term referencing older age, leading to an initial corpus of 543 articles. Articles were included in this review if they described older adults' interaction with robots. Exclusion of articles that did not meet this criterion, as well as duplicate material, led to a total of 80 articles, that were then subjected to quantitative and qualitative analyses. Studies tended to focus on older users, typically community-dwelling adults, without sufficient consideration of the users' characteristics and the physical, social, and cultural context of the HRI. Using a variety of methods, many studies were snapshot inquiries. The chief topics explored were use patterns, the resulting outcomes thereof and factors that constrain use. Commonly, however, these topics were examined separately. In addition, most studies lacked any theoretical framework. Additional studies are needed to more fully understand what makes HRI successful. The model presented here suggests scholars to conduct theory-driven research, and distinguish among various segments of older users, different types of robots, and group and individual HRI. It also proposes paying greater attention to the users' cultural, physical and social environment, and application of longitudinal and simultaneous examination of uses, outcomes, and constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E26-E36
JournalThe Gerontologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Jan 2019


  • Eldercare
  • Quality of life
  • Robotics technology
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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