Social robots survey for health care providers


Dear colleague,

We are pediatric oncology researchers, and we are developing a social robot with the aim of supporting children with cancer during their treatment. As this provides new opportunities in care for children with cancer, we would highly appreciate your expert opinion as a health care provider on this topic. Your opinion is very important to us in establishing the role and developing the behavior of this social robot. Therefore, we would like to ask you to participate in our study by filling out our survey. The survey consists of 20 questions and takes 5-10 minutes to complete.

You can participate in this study if you are:

  • A health care provider currently working in pediatric oncology practice;
  • working with children between 4-12 years;
  • understanding the English language well enough to complete an online survey.

Data will be collected anonymously and is not traceable to individuals. By filling out the questionnaire you consent with using your data for scientific purposes.

Should you have any questions about the study, please contact Mrs. Kelly van Bindsbergen via

Thank you in advance for filling out our survey.

Yours sincerely,
Kelly van Bindsbergen, MSc
Hans Merks, MD, PhD
Prof. Martha Grootenhuis, PhD

Princess Máxima Center for pediatric oncology, the Netherlands

Socio-demographic and clinical background information

With these first five questions, we would like to know more about you and your clinical background.

What is your gender?

What is your age?

What is your primary profession?

How long have you been working in the field of pediatric oncology?

In what country do you practice your profession?

First impression and current experiences

Definition social robot
Social robots can be defined as “new types of robots whose primary goal is social interaction with humans”.1 In other words, robots designed to have meaningful social interactions. Some example pictures of social robots are shown below.

Social robot picture 1 Social robot picture 2 Social robot picture 3
Social robot picture 4

N.B. So social robots are not robots that have a solely functional purpose, such as telepresence, performing or assisting surgery, helping with rehabilitation, making deliveries or sanitizing hospital rooms.

With the next four questions we would like to know how much you know about social robots and whether you have any experience with social robots.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about a social robot for children in the hospital? (Please answer shortly in a few words)

Have you ever heard of a social robot being used in pediatric hospitals in general?

Is a social robot being used in the pediatric hospital where you work (as far as you know)?

Have you ever worked with a social robot for children in the hospital?

Possible value and purpose

Background information
Social robots are becoming more and more popular in the healthcare context, and possibilities and effects are actively explored and studied. Four examples of what social robots have been used for in pediatric healthcare are:

  1. Play to promote the socio-emotional wellbeing of hospitalized children.2
  2. Educate to improve self-management in children with diabetes.3
  3. Coach to help children with cancer deal with feelings of distress.4
  4. Distract to reduce procedural pain and distress in children with cancer.5

With the next eight questions, we would like to know whether you see any value in using a social robot for children in the hospital and if so, for which purpose.

In general, a social robot is something children in the hospital will like.

In general, I see value in using a social robot to support children in the hospital during treatment.

More specifically, I see value in using a social robot in the hospital to support children during:
  No valueSome valueConsiderable valueGreat value
1. Scanning procedures (i.e. PET/CT-scan)
2. Radiation therapy (including MIBG therapy)
3. Procedures in the procedure room (i.e. port-a-cath access, probe insertion)
4. Sleep (when being hospitalized)
5. Hospitalization (in the playroom or patient room)
6. Other, namely

If I would have to pick one scenario where a social robot would be most valuable, it would be:

A social robot can be there for a child in the hospital, when parents or other health care providers cannot.

With regard to the function of the robot, I see value in using a social robot in the hospital to:
  No valueSome valueConsiderable valueGreat value
1. Play (games)
2. Educate (information about treatment)
3. Coach (coach children during treatment)
4. Distract (entertain during treatment, i.e. dance)
5. Other, namely

If I would have to pick one function that would be most valuable for a social robot, it would be:

A social robot can reduce the amount of stress, pain or anxiety a child experiences in the hospital.

Possible barriers

Using social robots in the pediatric healthcare context is relatively new and promising, but still in its infancy. There are opportunities, but also barriers. With these last three questions, we would like to know what you anticipate as potential barriers in using a social robot in pediatric oncology.

In general, when I (imagine to) use a social robot in my work, I expect:

More specifically, I expect difficulties with regard to:
  No difficultiesSome difficultiesConsiderable difficultiesGreat difficulties
1. Time (procedures will take too much additional time because of the robot)
2. Technique (errors with the robot in executing its task)
3. Resistance (from myself, my colleagues, or the child and/or parents)
4. Usefulness (the robot will not have a significant contribution)
5. Other, namely

I would be willing to use a social robot in my work to provide care for my patients in the hospital.

Thank you and open-end question or remarks

Thank you
Thank you so much for filling out this questionnaire and for sharing your expertise and experiences with us. We are very grateful that you took the time to contribute to our research!

Do you have any final questions or additional remarks?

1. Lee, K. M., Park, N., & Song, H. (2004). Can a Robot be Perceived as a Developing Creature?: Effects of Artificial Developments on Social Presence and Social Responses toward Robots in Human-Robot Interaction. Paper presented at International Communication Association conference, May 2004, New Orleans, LA.

2. Jeong, S., Breazeal, C., Logan, D., & Weinstock, P. (2018). Huggable: The Impact of Embodiment on Promoting Socio-Emotional Interactions for Young Pediatric Inpatients. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (p. 495). ACM.

3. Henkemans, O. A. B., Bierman, B. P., Janssen, J., Neerincx, M. A., Looije, R., van der Bosch, H., & van der Giessen, J. A. (2013). Using a robot to personalise health education for children with diabetes type 1: A pilot study. Patient education and counseling, 92(2), 174-181.

4. Alemi, M., Ghanbarzadeh, A., Meghdari, A., & Moghadam, L. J. (2016). Clinical Application of a Humanoid Robot in Pediatric Cancer Interventions. International Journal of Social Robotics, 8, 743-759.

5. Jibb, L.A., Birnie, K.A., Nathan, P.C., Beran, T.N., Hum, V., Victor, J.C., & Stinson, J.N. (2018). Using the MEDiPORT Humanoid Robot to Reduce Procedural Pain and Distress in Children with Cancer: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 65, e27242