Humour in adult cancer care: a concept analysis

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To report an analysis of the concept of humour in adult cancer care.


Humour is a form of communication which is present in the adult cancer setting. Numerous studies show the multi-dimensional value of humour in cancer care. A clear conceptual understanding, however, of what it represents is lacking.


Walker and Avant's framework was used to guide this concept analysis.

Data sources

Literature searches included bibliographic databases, internet, and manual searches.

Review methods

Literature published from 1990 to the present was reviewed. Thematic analysis was carried out to identify critical attributes and antecedents.


Based on the analysis, a definition of humour in adult cancer nursing is proposed. Humour is a subjective emotional response, resulting from the recognition and expression of incongruities of a comic, absurd and impulsive situation, remark, character, or action, which enhances feelings of closeness or togetherness when shared in the context of trust between the patient and nurse and may be used as a coping mechanism in a stressful situation such as the adult cancer care setting.


The analysis provides an understanding of the concept of humour in the adult cancer setting and includes a theoretical illustration of its critical attributes. This concept analysis provides a forum for discussion with reference to the use of humour in adult cancer nursing care. Further exploration is recommended to determine the meaning of humour and its nature across different care settings.

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