Humor and Its Effects on Cancer Patients

Intuitively, one wouldn’t think that something as familiar and as simple as humor could be significant in relation to cancer. Even scientists and researchers struggle to find any noteworthy findings on the specific physiological effects of humor in the human body. Part of the reason for this problem is the complexity of the topic, particularly how a researcher would be able to quantify or concretize humor itself. Intuitively, one wouldn’t think that something as familiar and as simple as humor could be significant in relation to cancer. 

However, the direct effect of humor is not the only way for it to have significance in cancer studies. Researchers suggest the use of humor as a secondary assistive therapy for cancer patients. This article’s purpose will be to shed light on the use of humor throughout the physician-patient relationship provided in a healthcare setting. 

How Do Scientists Define Humor?

There is no such thing as a universal definition of humor in the scientific field. Humor can be the stimulus presented to a person or the response of boisterous laughter to that stimulus. Any definition would suffice because the more important idea to understand with humor is its psychological implications for us. 

Scientists believe that humor is a defense mechanism our brain uses to cope with stress or anxiety. In a way, you can say that humor is a means for us to alleviate the emotional pain we are feeling. Humor is often encouraged in stress-inducing environments such as schools, work offices, and healthcare facilities for individuals’ better psychological and emotional welfare.

Humor As Adjunct Therapy For Cancer Patients

The specific term for a certain secondary assistive treatment is adjunct therapy. In our case, the use of humor within the physician-patient interaction aids the primary medical treatment for the cancer patient.

Different patients react to their diseases in different manners. In line with this, researchers have also conducted studies on varied groups of cancer patients. A Research in 2013 noted through an interview that most ovarian cancer patients in the study used humor as a coping mechanism for their disease. These patients also feel that a humorous interaction with their healthcare workers alleviates their anxiety.

Men, in particular, are more reserved in terms of sharing their distress with others. However, a 2009 study that observed a Prostate Cancer Support Group exhibited how humor can promote inclusivity and mutual help within the group. The study recommends that practices in the healthcare setting include the specific ways the men used humor in the group to invite them to open up to healthcare workers.

These studies show significant signs of the inclusion of humor in a healthcare setting. However, some precautions should be observed when engaging in these kinds of interactions. The study on ovarian cancer patients deemed it necessary that physicians should observe a good rapport between their patients before engaging in humor. The study on the Prostate Cancer Support Group also noted that some humorous banter might go overboard and cause discomfort. It is still important to be considerate when leaving a humorous remark to anyone, especially cancer patients. 

Read more:  17 Reasons for Cancer Patients to Laugh More

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