Introduction: Apathy, agitated behaviours, loneliness and depression are common consequences of dementia. This trial aims to evaluate the effect of a robotic animal on behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in people with dementia living in long-term aged care.Methods and analysis: A cluster-randomised controlled trial with three treatment groups: PARO (robotic animal), Plush-Toy (non-robotic PARO) or Usual Care (Control). The nursing home sites are Australian Government approved and accredited facilities of 60 or more beds. The sites are located in South-East Queensland, Australia. A sample of 380 adults with a diagnosis of dementia, aged 60 years or older living in one of the participating facilities will be recruited. The intervention consists of three individual 15 min non-facilitated sessions with PARO or Plush- Toy per week, for a period of 10 weeks. The primary outcomes of interest are improvement in agitation, mood states and engagement. Secondary outcomes include sleep duration, step count, change in psychotropic medication use, change in treatment costs, and staff and family perceptions of PARO or Plush-Toy. Video data will be analysed using Noldus XT Pocket Observer; descriptive statistics will be used for participants' demographics and outcome measures; cluster and individual level analyses to test all hypotheses and Generalised Linear Models for cluster level and Generalised Estimation Equations and/or Multi-level Modeling for individual level data.Ethics and dissemination: The study participants or their proxy will provide written informed consent. The Griffith University Human Research Ethics Committee has approved the study (NRS/03/14/HREC). The results of the study will provide evidence of the efficacy of a robotic animal as a psychosocial treatment for the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. Findings will be presented at local and international conference meetings and published in peer-reviewed journals.
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