Background: To investigate whether laughter therapy lowers total mood disturbance scores and improves self-esteem scores in patients with cancer.
Design/setting: Randomized controlled trial in a radio-oncology outpatient setting.
Patients: Sixty-two patients were enrolled and randomly assigned to the experimental group (n=33) or the wait list control group (n=29).
Interventions: Three laughter therapy sessions lasting 60 minutes each.
Outcome measures: Mood state and self-esteem.
Results: The intention-to-treat analysis revealed a significant main effect of group: Experimental group participants reported a 14.12-point reduction in total mood disturbance, while the wait list control group showed a 1.21-point reduction (p=0.001). The per-protocol analysis showed a significant main effect of group: The experimental group reported a 18.86-point decrease in total mood disturbance, while controls showed a 0.19-point reduction (p<0.001). The self-esteem of experimental group was significantly greater than that of the wait list control group (p=0.044).
Conclusions: These results indicate that laughter therapy can improve mood state and self-esteem and can be a beneficial, noninvasive intervention for patients with cancer in clinical settings.