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Humour plays essential role in ICU and palliative care

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

They spent 200 hours observing and informally interacting with care providers, patients and their families in a palliative care unit, and held interviews with 15 healthcare professionals. 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 in embarrassing situations, as well as providing staff with a coping and support mechanism.

‘Our research suggests that nurses and other healthcare professional don’t need to suppress humour,’ the authors said. ‘They should trust their instincts about when it is appropriate.

‘Combined with scientific skill and compassion, humour offers a humanising dimension in healthcare that is too valuable to be overlooked,’ they added.

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

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