The effects of laughter therapy on mood state and self-esteem in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy: a randomized controlled trial

J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Apr;21(4):217-22. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0152.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Anger
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laughter Therapy*
  • Laughter*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Self Concept*