Document Type



A lack of social connectedness is common among older adults due to living alone, loss of loved ones, reduced mobility, and, more recently, social distancing created by the global Covid-19 pandemic. Older adults are vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness, which pose significant health risks comparable to those of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure. A lack of social connectedness is also correlated with higher mortality rates even when controlling for other factors such as age and comorbid conditions. The purpose of this mini review was to explore the emerging concepts of older adults' use of commercially available artificial intelligent virtual home assistants (VHAs; e.g., Amazon Echo, Google Nest), and its relationship to social isolation and loneliness. A secondary purpose was to identify potential areas for further research. Results suggest that VHAs are perceived by many older adult users as “companions” and improve social connectedness and reduce loneliness. Available studies are exploratory and descriptive and have limited generalizability due to small sample sizes, however, similar results were reported across several studies conducted in differing countries. Privacy concerns and other ethical issues and costs associated with VHA use were identified as potential risks to older adults' VHA adoption and use. Older adults who were using VHAs expressed the need and desire for more structured training on device use. Future research with stronger methods, including prospective, longitudinal, and randomized study designs are needed. Public education, industry standards, and regulatory oversight is required to mitigate potential risks associated with VHA use.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


© 2021 Corbett, Wright, Jones and Parmer. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

APA Citation

Corbett, C. F., Wright, P. J., Jones, K., & Parmer, M. (2021). Voice-Activated Virtual Home Assistant Use and Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Older Adults: Mini Review. Frontiers in Public Health, 9.

Included in

Nursing Commons