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Humour aids in end-of-life care

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Humour can play an important role in the most serious healthcare settings, such as end-of-life care, according to nurse researchers.

They spent 200 hours observing and informally interacting with care providers, patients and families in a palliative care unit, where they interviewed 15 healthcare staff. They also spent 72 hours in an ICU, interviewing 15 nurses.

The authors, from Canada, concluded that humour helped nurses connect with patients and reduce indignity, as well as providing staff with a coping and support mechanism.

‘Nurses and other healthcare professionals don’t need to suppress humour,’ they said. ‘They should trust their instincts about when it is appropriate.’

Journal of Clinical Nursing (2008) 17: 1088–1095

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