Humor during clinical practice: Analysis of recorded clinical encounters

Kari A. Phillips, Naykky Singh Ospina, Rene Rodriguez-Gutierrez, Ana Castaneda-Guarderas, Michael R. Gionfriddo, Megan Branda, Victor Montori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Little is known about humor's use in clinical encounters, despite its many potential benefits. We aimed to describe humor during clinical encounters. Design: We analyzed 112 recorded clinical encounters. Two reviewers working independently identified instances of humor, as well as information surrounding the logistics of its use. Results: Of the 112 encounters, 66 (59%) contained 131 instances of humor. Humor was similarly frequent in primary care (36/61, 59%) and in specialty care (30/51, 59%), was more common in gender-concordant interactions (43/63, 68%), and was most common during counseling (81/112, 62%). Patients and clinicians introduced humor similarly (63 vs 66 instances). Typically, humor was about the patient's medical condition (40/131, 31%). Discussion and Conclusion: Humor is used commonly during counseling to discuss the patient's medical condition and to relate to general life events bringing warmth to the medical encounter. The timing and topic of humor and its use by all parties suggests humor plays a role in the social connection between patients and physicians and allows easier discussion of difficult topics. Further research is necessary to establish its impact on clinicians, patients, and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-278
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Keywords

  • Humor
  • Patient-centered care
  • Patient-physician communication
  • Physician-patient relations
  • Primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice

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  • Cite this

    Phillips, K. A., Ospina, N. S., Rodriguez-Gutierrez, R., Castaneda-Guarderas, A., Gionfriddo, M. R., Branda, M., & Montori, V. (2018). Humor during clinical practice: Analysis of recorded clinical encounters. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 31(2), 270-278. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2018.02.170313