The Therapy Beneath the Fun: Medical Clowning During Invasive Examinations on Children

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2016 Jan;55(1):56-65. doi: 10.1177/0009922815598143. Epub 2015 Aug 2.


Objective: The qualitative research presented here is part of a larger project on the significance of medical clowning during invasive examinations in children in the Department of Gastroenterology and the Center for the Sexually Abused in a hospital in Israel. It investigated what makes up the essence of medical clowning, what skills and techniques are used by medical clowns, and whether their work contains therapeutic elements.

Methods: A total of 9 children undergoing invasive examinations and 9 of their accompanying parents participated in semistructured interviews, which were analyzed using a thematic analysis methodology assisted by an Atlas-ti software program.

Results: The interviews revealed that the medical clowning intervention during invasive examinations was essentially therapeutic, with the clown using theatrical and clowning tools to incorporate therapeutic elements such as empowerment, reversal of role, reframing, and building a therapeutic alliance. In addition, during the invasive examinations, the medical clowning followed the model of brief crisis intervention therapy.

Conclusion: The study advances the need to incorporate medical clowns as an integral part of medical teams performing invasive procedures and to include clowns in all stages of the hospital visit when children undergo invasive examinations.

Keywords: child sexual abuse; invasive examination; medical clowning; pediatrics; therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Israel
  • Laughter / psychology*
  • Laughter Therapy / methods*
  • Laughter Therapy / psychology*
  • Male
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome