Can Humor and Laughter Influence Health Outcomes?

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4) 8 References (See attach)


1) Make a research paper following the outline (Outline-File 1) information not included in the outline is not accepted

2) Only use the attached articles as a source of information. There are a total of 8 articles.

Humor and Laughter may Influence Health. I. History and Background.pdf

Advance Access Publication 16 January 2006 eCAM 2006;3(1)61–63



Humor and Laughter may Influence Health. I. History and Background

Mary Payne Bennett1 and Cecile A. Lengacher2

1Indiana State University College of Nursing, IN, USA and 2University of South Florida College of Nursing, FL, USA

Articles in both the lay and professional literature have extolled the virtues of humor, many giving the

impression that the health benefits of humor are well documented by the scientific and medical commun-

ity. The concept that humor or laughter can be therapeutic goes back to biblical times and this belief has

received varying levels of support from the scientific community at different points in its history.

Current research indicates that using humor is well accepted by the public and is frequently used as a

coping mechanism. However, the scientific evidence of the benefits of using humor on various health

related outcomes still leaves many questions unanswered.

Keywords: Humor – Health

Can Humor and Laughter Influence Health Outcomes?


Using humor to decrease stress, diminish pain, improve quality

of life and even attempt to improve immune functioning has

recently become a popular topic in the lay and professional

literature (1–4). Laughter in response to a humorous stimulus

is a natural occurrence and does not require large amounts of

time or money in order to implement. While therapies such

as relaxation and exercise require significant time and commit-

ment, and therapies such as herbs or massage can be expen-

sive, use of humor can be easily implemented and cost

effective. However, clinical benefits must still be documented

before this therapy can be widely supported by the health care


Diverse literature suggests that effects of humor on various

outcomes such as stress, health and immune function have

been well-documented by empirical research and are therefore

commonly accepted. The work of Cousins (5), Fry (6–11),

Berk (12–17) or the field of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)

is frequently cited as supporting the role of humor in healing.

However, despite media claims, relatively few professional

articles examine the scientific basis for these claims. There

are a few studies that have examined the effects of humor or

laughter on psychological outcomes, such as stress. However,

there are a very limited number of studies that document

the effects of laughter on physiological outcomes, and no

controlled studies have been identified that document the

effects of laughter on clinical health outcomes.

So what do we really know about the role of sense of humor,

use of humor by patients with various illnesses, or the effects

of laughter on various health related outcomes? Is use of

humor an approach that we should implement in our practices

and/or recommend to our patients? This is the first of the four

articles that reviews, clarifies and synthesizes the professional

literature concerning humor and health outcomes. This first

paper presents basic background on the theoretical under-

pinnings concerning how the mind can affect the body, such

as the effects of stress on immune functioning. Research in

this area provides fundamental support for the supposition

that interventions that lower stress may also help improve

physiological outcomes. The second paper reports studies

that document patient interest in and use of humor as a com-

plementary therapy, and provides evidence to support that

humor may be one of the more frequently used complement-

ary therapies. The third paper describes studies that report