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Keywords:

  • humor therapy;
  • depressive disorder;
  • geriatric patients;
  • state and trait cheerfulness

Background

Positive effects of humor on older patients with depressive symptoms have been repeatedly reported. Empirical evidence however is rare. We investigated the efficacy of a standardized humor therapy group in a clinical context especially for older depressed patients.

Patients and methods

An experimental group with treatment (49 patients) was compared with a control group with no treatment (50 patients) in a semi-randomized design. Included were patients with major depression according to ICD-10. A set of questionnaires (Geriatric Depression Scale, Short Form Health Survey, State-Trait-Cheerfulness Inventory, and Satisfaction with Life Scale) was administered pretreatment and posttreatment.

Results

Both groups showed improvement for depression, suicidal tendency, state cheerfulness, and state bad mood. Only participants of the humor group showed changes of state seriousness and satisfaction with life (p < 0.05). Further trends could be demonstrated for higher changes in state cheerfulness and resilience for the humor group.

Conclusion

Our results indicate an additional benefit of this specific therapeutic intervention for older depressed patients. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.