Compared with baseline ESAS scores, patients who watched the humorous DVD subsequently demonstrated significant decreases in cancer- and chemotherapy-related symptoms (P = .04). Anxiety levels as assessed by STAI-S score also declined significantly (P = .03). Salivary IgA levels in the group that watched the humorous DVD increased, suggesting improved immune response (P = .03), though the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.
Interviews of participants following the DVD viewing showed that patients who watched the humorous DVD felt better physically and psychologically. They attributed these boosts to feeling more positive and relaxed after watching the DVD, which they said distracted them from the stress of their illness and the unpleasant effects of treatment.
This was only a small study, and it may be premature to suggest adopting a Patch Adams routine in an effort to humor your patients. The findings do support the idea of humor serving as a complement to pharmacological therapy when seeking to manage cancer symptoms and adverse effects related to chemotherapy. Humor is an "inexpensive, efficient, and effective intervention," the researchers concluded.