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Robots for human care: ethical perception

Caring for aging populations is a growing global need, but robot nurses have seen slow implementation despite promises. An international research team developed a universal model explaining how ethical beliefs shape elder care robot adoption across cultures.

Currently no model clarifies the ethics-adoption link globally. The cross-sectional study surveyed Japan, Ireland and Finland to address this knowledge gap. It will publish in Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics in January 2024.

The research aimed to enable proper elder care robot use by fostering discussion between users, developers and regulators in Japan and beyond on readiness, privacy, and data usage.

The team surveyed elderly adults, families, caregivers and professionals on ethical concerns affecting robot care willingness. Ethical review boards in each country approved the 1,132-person study from late 2018 to early 2019.

Willingness ranked highest in Japan (77%), then Ireland (70%) and Finland (53%). The conceptual model incorporated 10 questionnaire items on personal data collection, usage in care, secondary usage, and R&D participation.

Statistical refinement using Akaike Information Criterion yielded a final universal model that explained care robot ethics and adoption across all three demographically and culturally distinct countries.

The researchers conclude that encouraging participatory "co-design" and "co-production" can stimulate social robot acceptance by addressing users' ethical concerns.

This ethical model provides a template for improving care robot development worldwide to benefit aging societies. It underscores the importance of inclusive design and responsible data practices for adoption.

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