The effect of humor on elder mental and physical health

Geriatr Nurs. May-Jun 2014;35(3):205-11. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2014.01.005. Epub 2014 Mar 18.


A convenience sample of community-dwelling older people attending senior centers was asked to participate in a quasi-experimental study to examine the impact of a humor therapy workshop on physical and mental health. Participants were assessed at baseline and at six months for physical (general health and health quality of life) and mental (general well-being, anxiety, depression and psychological distress) health. The sample consisted of 92 subjects, 42 in the control group and 50 in the workshop. Compared to controls, subjects in the workshop had significantly lower follow-up levels of anxiety and depression and improved general well-being. No differences were observed for general health, health quality of life, or psychological distress. This humor therapy workshop was associated with a positive effect upon mental health. It is recommended that attendance at humor workshops be encouraged and that further investigations into the efficacy of such programs on mental and physical health be investigated.

Keywords: Community-dwelling elderly; Humor; Mental health; Physical health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Wit and Humor as Topic*