Interactive Education on Sleep Hygiene with a Social Robot at a Pediatric Oncology Outpatient Clinic: Feasibility, Experiences, and Preliminary Effectiveness

Kelly L.A. van Bindsbergen, Hinke van der Hoek, Marloes van Gorp, Mike E.U. Ligthart, Koen V. Hindriks, Mark A. Neerincx, Tanja Alderliesten, Peter A.N. Bosman, Johannes H.M. Merks, Martha A. Grootenhuis, Raphaële R.L. van Litsenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Children with cancer often experience sleep problems, which are associated with many negative physical and psychological health outcomes, as well as with a lower quality of life. Therefore, interventions are strongly required to improve sleep in this population. We evaluated interactive education with respect to sleep hygiene with a social robot at a pediatric oncology outpatient clinic regarding the feasibility, experiences, and preliminary effectiveness. Methods: Researchers approached children (8 to 12 years old) who were receiving anticancer treatment and who were visiting the outpatient clinic with their parents during the two-week study period. The researchers completed observation forms regarding feasibility, and parents completed the Children’s Sleep Hygiene Scale before and two weeks after the educational regimen. The experiences of children and parents were evaluated in semi-structured interviews. We analyzed open answers by labeling each answer with a topic reflecting the content and collapsed these topics into categories. We used descriptive statistics to describe the feasibility and experiences, and a dependent-samples t-test to evaluate the preliminary effectiveness. Results: Twenty-eight families participated (58% response rate) and all interactions with the robot were completed. The children and parents reported that they learned something new (75% and 50%, respectively), that they wanted to learn from the robot more often (83% and 75%, respectively), and that they applied the sleeping tips from the robot afterwards at home (54%). Regarding the preliminary effectiveness, children showed a statistically significant improvement in their sleep hygiene (p = 0.047, d = 0.39). Conclusions: Providing an educational regimen on sleep hygiene in a novel, interactive way by using a social robot at the outpatient clinic seemed feasible, and the children and parents mostly exhibited positive reactions. We found preliminary evidence that the sleep hygiene of children with cancer improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3792
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2022


  • innovation
  • interactive education
  • outpatient clinic
  • pediatric oncology
  • psycho-oncology
  • sleep hygiene
  • social robots


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