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January 27, 1989

Laugh If This Is a Joke

JAMA. 1989;261(4):558. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420040092022

To the Editor. —  Research findings are beginning to accumulate that suggest humor and laughter might be therapeutic and could be used to reduce disease symptoms.1 Applications have been developed already, for example, humorrooms in hospitals. Since clinical evaluations still seem to be lacking, the present report of a first attempt at implementing humor therapy in general practice might be warranted.

Study.—  Eight consecutive outpatients suitable for the therapy were selected. Six agreed to participate: all were women aged 26 to 48 years, with painful musculoskeletal disorders and depressive moods but no severe psychiatric conditions. Together with a staff of one male and two female nurses we formed a "humor-group," which met 13 times at our primary health care center. The atmosphere was relaxed and jolly during meetings—discussion of problems, symptoms, and disease was avoided. We used funny books, records, and videofilms and learned to give higher priority to