Current study: Clinic clowns are healing again

Current study: Clinic clowns are healing again

Research on the effectiveness of laughter and good mood
More and more hospitals are hiring clinic clowns to make their stay in the unfamiliar atmosphere more pleasant for children. By visiting the cheerful and colorful fun makers, the little patients can be distracted from worries, pains and fears and instead be encouraged to laugh and be happy. But can the clowns also help the children to recover? This question is now to be answered in a joint study by the Greifswald University Medical Center and the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Clowns bring a good mood into the sterile hospital atmosphere
"Laughter makes you healthy" - this is the saying that the so-called "clinic clowns" take to heart when they try to bring some color into the dreary hospital routine at work in the children's ward. In order to make the difficult time easier for children and to distract them from pain and sadness, they create a happy, carefree mood in the waiting areas and directly in the rooms and bring laughter and joie de vivre to the otherwise rather "sterile" environment.
But does laughing really make you healthy? Scientists from Pediatric Surgery at the University Medical Center Greifswald and the Institute for Psychology / Social and Organizational Psychology at the Humboldt University in Berlin want to answer this question. The study will start on Thursday, in which the effectiveness of clown therapy in children will be examined together. For this purpose, special questionnaires have been developed for small patients, nurses, doctors and parents, Winfried Barthlen, director of Greifswald children's surgery, told the news agency "dpa".

Little research has been done on the effects of laughter
An apparently long overdue investigation, because, as the physician and cabaret artist Eckart von Hirschhausen notes, there has so far been little scientific knowledge about the effects of laughter and humor on health. “I dream that in one generation it will be possible to transfer humor research into a recognized science, with several chairs in Germany, as content in all medical and therapeutic professions, and with parties where you are ashamed of being a lawyer "Is an administrative director or tax advisor," the doctor continued.
Since December 2014, his “Humor helps heal” foundation has been working with a Brandenburg and Stuttgart clinic to find out whether patients with chest pain and psychosomatic heart problems can benefit from humor training. "In this way, we receive reliable data that allow us to draw conclusions as to whether humor can have a positive impact on health," said the senior consultant Dr. Peter Ong from Robert Bosch Hospital (RBK), Dr. Ong.

As the foundation reports, there are now around 50 to 60 clubs and a total of around 500 clinic clowns in Germany - and the trend is rising. The aim is that every clinic and every old age institution give humor a permanent place in everyday life, according to a spokeswoman for “Humor helps heal” towards “dpa”.

Concentration of the “happiness hormone” oxytocin is said to enable conclusions to be drawn
"Every doctor and nurse knows from his own experience the healing effects of hope, a good mood and laughter," explains Eckart von Hirschhausen in an interview with the news agency. However, due to the many influencing factors and different courses, this can only be proven with difficulty in individual cases. Therefore, it is "all the more commendable" that the Greifswald children's surgeons would now work with several methods, the doctor continued.
In addition to the questionnaires, the new study will also determine the concentration of the so-called “happiness hormone” oxytocin in the children's saliva. In addition, it will be investigated whether the clowns also have a positive effect on the parents of the small patients and to what extent this is transferred to the children. This combined procedure should ultimately provide initial insights into whether the work of the clowns actually has an impact on the healing success, Winfried Barthlen continues.

A total of 48 small patients from the Greifswald children's clinic between the ages of 5 and 12 will be examined for the study in the coming months. Half would receive clown therapy in parallel to standard medical treatment, while the other 24 would not. "If hospital clowns are really good for the children and make everyday life in the clinic easier for the little patients, then they should be an integral part of the nursing and medical team in children's wards," said Barthlen in a message from the Greifswald University Medical Center. To do this, however, it was necessary to prove the effectiveness of clown therapy in a controlled study using precise scientific methods. (No)

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