To the Editor. —
Some anecdotal reports and laboratory studies with healthy populations suggest humor may be of therapeutic benefit to hospitalized patients.1 These studies are generally not controlled and suffer from possible subject-selection bias as well as other methodological problems. The present report suggests the helpful effects of humor in hospitalized patients may be less than previously indicated.
After approval by the appropriate research committees, two groups of volunteers were recruited for these projects. All were competent, male veterans willing to sign the approved consent form. One group (8 patients) received transurethral prostate surgery under local anesthesia2 and the second group (16 patients) received peripheral (leg) arteriography.3Subjects were randomly assigned to either a humor or ocean sound (control) audiotape condition. The humor tape consisted of a recording of an old Jack Benny radio show. About 85% of the humor-tape subjects described the tape
Neumann JK. Humor Therapy: The Good News— No One Died; The Bad News— Jack Benny Did. JAMA. 1989;262(18):2540–2541. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430180078026
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