Background: Aging and its social-biological process naturally impair the functions of different body organs and cause progressive disabilities in managing personal affairs and performing social roles. Laughter therapy is an important strategy which has been recommended by experts for increasing health promotion in older adults. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the effect of laughter therapy program on public health of senior citizens.
Methods: In a randomized controlled trial, we enrolled 72 senior citizens aged 60 and over referring to Jahandidegan (Khold-e-Barin) retirement community center in Shiraz, southwest Iran during January to February 2014. The participants were assigned into experimental (N=36) and control (N=36) groups. Data were collected using General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) and demographic questionnaire. The participants of experimental group attended a laughter therapy program consisting of two 90-minute sessions per week lasting for 6 weeks.
Results: We found a statistically significant correlation between laughter therapy program and factors such as general health (P=0.001), somatic symptoms (P=0.001), insomnia and anxiety (P=0.001). However, there was no statistically significant correlation among laughter therapy, social dysfunction (P=0.28) and depression (P=0.069).
Conclusion: We concluded that laughter therapy can improve general health and its subscales in elderly people.
Trial registration number: IRCT2014061111691N4.
Keywords: Elderly; General health; Laughter therapy.