Humour therapy in patients with late-life depression or Alzheimer's disease: a pilot study




Of the disabling disorders of the elderly, depression is the most common affective disorder and Alzheimer's disease (AD) the most common neurodegenerative disorder. Pharmacological treatment strategies for these disorders are often accompanied with severe side effects. Therefore non-pharmacological treatment strategies are of great importance. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of humour therapy on quality of life in patients with depression or AD.


Twenty patients with late-life depression and 20 patients with AD were evaluated. Ten patients in each group underwent a humour therapy group (HT) once in two weeks for 60 min in addition to standard pharmacotherapy, which was given as usual to the other group as standard therapy (ST). All patients completed a psychometric test battery at admission and before discharge from the clinic.


The quality of life scores improved both in HT and ST groups for depressive patients but not for patients with AD irrespective of the therapy group. Depressive patients receiving HT showed the highest quality of life after treatment. In addition, patients with depression in both therapy groups showed improvements in mood, depression score, and instrumental activities of daily living.


Although there was no significant effect of humour therapy comparing with standard therapy on quality of life, these findings suggest that humour therapy can provide an additional therapeutic tool. Further studies with higher frequently humour groups are required in order to investigate the impact of humour therapy in gerontopsychiatric treatment. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.