Characteristics of interactive communication between Pepper robot, patients with schizophrenia, and healthy persons


delivery of health care

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Betriana, F., Tanioka, R., Yokotani, T., Matsumoto, K., Zhao, Y., Osaka, K., Miyagawa, M., Kai, Y., Schoenhofer, S., Locsin, R. C., & Tanioka, T. (2022). Characteristics of interactive communication between Pepper robot, patients with schizophrenia, and healthy persons. Belitung Nursing Journal, 8(2), 176–184.
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Accepted for publication: 2022-03-12
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Background: Expressing enjoyment when conversing with healthcare robots is an opportunity to enhance the value of human robots with interactive capabilities. In clinical practice, it is common to find verbal dysfunctions in patients with schizophrenia. Thus, interactive communication characteristics may vary between Pepper robot, persons with schizophrenia, and healthy persons.

Objective: Two case studies aimed to describe the characteristics of interactive communications, 1) between Pepper as a healthcare robot and two patients with schizophrenia, and 2) between Pepper as a healthcare robot and two healthy persons.

Case Report: The “Intentional Observational Clinical Research Design” was used to collect data. Using audio-video technology, the conversational interactions between the four participants with the Pepper healthcare robot were recorded. Their interactions were observed, with significant events noted. After their interactions, the four participants were interviewed regarding their experience and impressions of interacting with the Pepper healthcare robot. Audio-video recordings were analyzed following the analysis and interpretation protocol, and the interview data were transcribed, analyzed, and interpreted.

Discussion: There were similarities and differences in the interactive communication characteristics between the Pepper robot and the two participants with schizophrenia and between Pepper and the two healthy participants. The similarities were experiences of human enjoyment while interacting with the Pepper robot. This enjoyment was enhanced with the expectancy of the Pepper robot as able to entertain, and possessing interactive capabilities, indicating two-way conversational abilities. However, different communicating characteristics were found between the healthy participants’ impressions of the Pepper robot and the participants with schizophrenia. Healthy participants understood Pepper to be an automaton, with responses to questions often constrained and, on many occasions, displaying inaccurate gaze.

Conclusion: Pepper robot showed capabilities for effective communication pertaining to expressing enjoyment. The accuracy and appropriateness of gaze remained a critical characteristic regardless of the situation or occasion with interactions between persons with schizophrenia, and between healthy persons. It is important to consider that in the future, for effective use of healthcare robots with multiple users, improvements in the areas of the appropriateness of gaze, response time during the conversation, and entertaining functions are critically observed.

Supporting Agencies

JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP17H01609


Copyright (c) 2022 Feni Betriana, Ryuichi Tanioka, Tomoya Yokotani, Kazuyuki Matsumoto, Yueren Zhao, Kyoko Osaka, Misao Miyagawa, Yoshihiro Kai, Savina Schoenhofer, Rozzano C. Locsin, Tetsuya Tanioka

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Declaration of Conflicting Interest

All authors have declared no actual or potential conflict of interest.



Authors’ Contributions

TT, RL, and SS developed the initial idea. FB, TT, and RL together drafted the initial manuscript. FB, RT, TY, MY, TT collected the data. FB, RL, TT conducted data analysis. TT, FB, RT, TY, KM, YZ, KO, MM, YK, SS, and RL reviewed, revised, and contributed additional information toward the manuscript. All authors critically reviewed and approved the final version.

Data Availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available due to ethical considerations but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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