The use of humour is believed to have several positive psychological and physiological effects on health. Many doctors and patients believe it has a place in the consultation. Dr Rachel Birch, medicolegal adviser at Medical Protection, addresses this issue in more detail and presents a case where humour had unintended consequences.
In recent years it has been recognised that the use of humour may well have a positive impact on patients. In fact, in some parts of the world, “laughter therapy” is even being used as a new form of complementary treatment. Many hospitals employ clowns to cheer up patients and visitors and to try to lessen the impact of illness and being in an unfamiliar environment.
Laughter may provide clinical benefits to patients, including lowering blood pressure, reducing stress hormone production, elevating mood, reducing pain and lowering anxiety.