Use of humor in caring for terminally ill patients

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Humour is an important element of healthcare, even in terminal illness. Researchers in Canada spent nearly 300 hours observing and interviewing staff, patients and families in an intensive care unit and a palliative care unit. They found that humour played an essential part in promoting team relationships and adding a human dimension to the care and support provided to seriously ill patients and their families. Humour enabled co-operation, relieved tensions, developed emotional flexibility and humanised the care experience for patient and practitioner. The researchers say nurses should not be reluctant to use humour as a part of compassionate and personalised care, even in critical situations.

Dean RA, Major JE. J Clin Nurs 2008;17(8):1088-95.

Originally published in the June 2008 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.

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