Laughter is sometimes referred to as the best medicine. The organization Rx Laughter agrees and with UCLA researchers decided to put it to the test.
The purpose was to determine if humor could make stressful or painful procedures easier for children and adolescents undergoing cancer treatments or a simple blood draw. The study group involved 18 healthy children between the ages of 7 & 16, with a mean age of 12.
Pain was induced in participants by placing a hand in icy cold water for up to three minutes. Between submersions their hand was wrapped with a warm towel.
To establish a baseline the children placed their hand in the icy water, then after their hand had been warmed re-submersed their hand in the icy water while watching a comedy video. The subjects were able to keep their hands in icy water significantly longer when watching a video. Although they kept their hands in the water longer they did not describe the task as any less painful, but it took longer before the pain became severe enough to remove their hand.
The researchers did not test any other genres of entertainment to determine if the study results were the result of humor or based on distraction. However, the results are supported by similar interventions being done across the United States at other children’s hospitals.