7

Were medical clowns ever shown in a study to help patient recovery, recuperation or to have any other measurable positive effect on patients of any age?

These visits to hospitals have been shown to help healing patients with the positive power of hope and humor. There is also an associated positive benefit to the staff and families of patients."

And, since medical clowns sometimes go to adult patients as well, were they shown to help adult (above 18 years old) patients?

Clown Doctors attend specifically to the psycho-social needs of the hospitalised child but in some hospitals they also visit adults

  • I think it is important to show a direct example of the claim: that clown doctors help people heal faster/better as opposed to the more prosaic claim that they make the hospital stay more enjoyable. (BTW: Clown doctors were unfairly hit by a dodgy press release about a study a few years back that made widely reported false claims.) – Oddthinking Sep 27 '12 at 15:38
  • @Oddthinking, right there in wikipedia, the second sentence is: "These visits to hospitals have been shown to help healing patients with the positive power of hope and humor. There is also an associated positive benefit to the staff and families of patients." – SIMEL Sep 27 '12 at 15:56
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Medical clowns can reduce anxiety in children, and also in their parents:

The effects of clown intervention on worries and emotional responses in children undergoing surgery.

The results emphasized the relevance of clown intervention on the reduction of preoperative worries and emotional responses, not only in children but also in their parents.

Clowns for the prevention of preoperative anxiety in children: a randomized controlled trial.

This study found that the use of preoperative medically trained clowns for children undergoing surgery can significantly alleviate preoperative anxiety.

I also found a proof of concept trial that looked at using a clown to treat adults with COPD:

Impact of laughter on air trapping in severe chronic obstructive lung disease

a humor intervention was able to reduce hyperinflation in patients with severe and very severe COPD. Response was mainly associated with smiling and a higher degree of hyperinflation. The results of this proof-of-concept study need to be validated by a randomized cross-over study, especially for a more reliable appreciation of the effect size and duration.

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Patch Adam, whom they made a film of in 1998, seemed to think so (although not very happy with the film they made of him). Patch Adams

But as it's comes under the category holistic care it's hard to prove scientifically, and it often get pushed into the alternative branch with a negative nominator.

I think it's reasonable to assume that it do work for some, as an effect of placebo or not really doesn't matter if it do work for the patient.

It's known that high level of dopamine, serotonin and/or endorphins makes one feel good. One way of producing this is by laughter (ie. from indirect intervention with clowns):

Effects of Laughter on the Human Brain

Edit: (too low score to comment..)

Holistic care only mean (ref. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/holistic+health+care):

a system of comprehensive or total patient care that considers the physical, emotional, social, economic, and spiritual needs of the person; his or her response to illness; and the effect of the illness on the ability to meet self-care needs. Holistic nursing is the modern nursing practice that expresses this philosophy of care. Also called comprehensive care.

This makes it very hard to measure in a scientific test as these require controllable and repeatable factors. The nature, so-to-speak, of holistic care make scientific testing very difficult due to factors influencing the person, that are variable and not controllable. It would be difficult to say if it is the clown, or the financial, or the social etc. that makes the actual effect, and/or which trigger the effect.

  • 3
    as it's comes under the category holistic care it's hard to prove scientifically I don't see why. If it has an effect, it can be tested. It doesn't matter than you're testing clowns instead of drugs. – Brendan Long Sep 27 '12 at 22:01
  • The edit here is spurious. With a large enough randomly-controlled sample, the confounding effects of the other variables will average away. – Oddthinking Jun 29 '14 at 7:30

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