Is There a Place for Humor in Hospice Palliative Care? Volunteers Say “Yes”!

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Abstract

A survey was conducted to examine the frequency, acceptability, and functions of humor between hospice palliative care volunteers and their patients, from the volunteers’ perspective. Thirty-two volunteers completed the survey, which was developed for this study. The results revealed that most patients and volunteers initiated humor either “often” or “sometimes” in their interactions. Over half of the volunteers considered humor to be either “very important” or “extremely important” in their interactions with patients (42% and 13%, respectively), with the patient being the determining factor as to whether and when it is appropriate or not (ie, volunteers take their lead from their patients). Volunteers mentioned a number of functions that humor serves within their patient interactions (eg, to relieve tension, to foster relationships/connections, and to distract). Laughter and humor fulfills one of the main goals of hospice palliative care, namely, improving patients’ overall quality of life.

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