Seriously clowning: Medical clowning interaction with children undergoing invasive examinations in hospitals

Soc Work Health Care. 2016 Apr;55(4):296-313. doi: 10.1080/00981389.2016.1141826.


This qualitative study examined the subjective experience of children undergoing an invasive examination in the hospital when accompanied by a medical clown. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine such children and nine of their accompanying parents. The children were patients in two outpatient departments (Pediatric Gastroenterology and a Center for the Sexually Abused) in a hospital in Israel. Interviews were coded thematically using an Atlas.ti software program. Analysis of the interviews indicated that the intervention of the clown positively changed the children's perceptions of the hospital, of experiencing the examination, and of their life narrative. Medical clowns thus appear to be a central, meaningful, and therapeutic source for children undergoing invasive examinations in hospital, as well as for their parents. Therefore, it may be advisable to incorporate medical clowns as an integral part of medical teams performing invasive procedures and to include the clowns in all stages of the hospital visit.

Keywords: Child sexual abuse; invasive examinations; medical clowning; mental health; pediatrics; psychosocial intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endoscopy / psychology
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Israel
  • Laughter / psychology*
  • Laughter Therapy / methods*
  • Laughter Therapy / psychology*
  • Male
  • Outpatients
  • Parents
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Physical Examination / psychology*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wit and Humor as Topic