Use of humour in primary care: Different perceptions among patients and physicians

M. Granek-Catarivas, S. Goldstein-Ferber, Y. Azuri, S. Vinker, E. Kahan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: (1) To explore the frequency with which humorous behaviour and statements occur in family medicine practice in Israel, and (2) to quantitatively assess the correlation between the subjective perceptions of humour in medical encounters between patients and physicians. Method: In a cross sectional study, two populations (doctors and patients) were surveyed with paired structured questionnaires completed immediately after primary care practice visits. Two hundred and fifty consecutive encounters from 15 practices were sampled. The physician questionnaire was self administered, and patient questionnaire was administered by a trained research assistant. Results: A mean of 16.7 questionnaires was completed per physician (range 6-20). The physicians reported having used some humour in only 95 encounters (38%), whereas almost 60% of patients agreed with the statement, "The doctor used some humour during the visit". At the same time, for specific encounters, the agreement between patients' perception and physicians' perceptions on the use of humour, although not completely by chance (p = 0.04), is low (κ = 0.115). Patient characteristics (age, education, gender, family status, mother tongue, self perceived heath status, stress, mood, and expectations) were not related to the degree of agreement between the patients' and physicians' perceptions. Conclusion: Humour was used in a large proportion of encounters, independently of patient characteristics. Patients seem to be more sensitised to humour than physicians, probably because of their high stress level during medical encounters. Cultural differences may also play a part. Physicians should be made aware of this magnifying effect, and the issue should be discussed in medical schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-130
Number of pages5
JournalPostgraduate Medical Journal
Volume81
Issue number952
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2005

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