Humor in critical care: no joke

AACN Clin Issues. 2000 Feb;11(1):120-7. doi: 10.1097/00044067-200002000-00013.


As the climate of healthcare continues to change, critical care nurses are under increasing stress, which in turn puts them at risk for stress-related illnesses. Nurses can benefit from having a repertoire of healthy coping mechanisms, and one of the means available to them is humor. When used appropriately, humor can have positive psychologic, communication, and social benefits, as well as positive physiologic effects. Without considering the elements of bond, environment, and timing, however, humor can come across as offensive and hurtful. This article explores some of the precursors of stress for nurses, the use of humor to combat stress, how to keep humor constructive, and the importance of being active rather than passive in producing humor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Critical Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Morale
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Wit and Humor as Topic / psychology*