Robots humanize care: Moral concerns versus witnessed benefits for the elderly

Margo A.M. Van Kemenade, Elly A. Konijn, Johannes Ferdinand Hoorn

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Ageing in Europe comes more rapidly than many realize: In about 10 years, one fifth of the population will be 65+ with a further increase of 70% in the next 25 years. At the same time, healthcare is under extreme pressure due to budget cuts, limited resources and personnel together with increased demands. Robots may fulfill important tasks in this respect. Our research focuses on social robots to support tasks requiring interpersonal communication. Many moral concerns and objections are raised, however, in particular among care professionals. To examine the issue, we report on 1) a qualitative study among professional caregivers and 2) a documentary portraying healthy elderly meeting with Hanson's Robokind "Alice". Alice is under development in our lab, supplying her with abilities for emotional responses. The results show that the moral concerns are not in line with the benefits that the social robots appear to have for the lonely elderly. Our conclusion posits that new robot technology may not dehumanize care but rather may bring humanness back into professional health care.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHEALTHINF 2015 - 8th International Conference on Health Informatics, Proceedings; Part of 8th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies, BIOSTEC 2015
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9789897580680
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event8th International Conference on Health Informatics, HEALTHINF 2015 - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 12 Jan 201515 Jan 2015


Conference8th International Conference on Health Informatics, HEALTHINF 2015


  • Affective bonding
  • Ageing
  • Healthcare robots
  • Moral concerns
  • Professional caregivers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Information Management
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Signal Processing


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