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Importance of humour to client–nurse relationships and clients’ well-being


Päivi Åstedt-Kurki, Department of Nursing Science, FIN-33014 University of Tampere, Finland. Email:


Humour is an important and integral part of everyday life, social integration and professional nursing care. However, there has been little systematic research into the use of humour in nursing contexts, from the clients' point of view. With a touch of humour, this article aims to describe the positive impact of humour on client–nurse relationship and on clients' well-being. The data consisted of focused interviews (n = 8) and letters (n = 5) received from nursing clients in response to an invitation published in a patient organization newsletter. The data were analysed using the method of content analysis. The results suggest that humour helped the client to cope with difficult situations by offering a moment of rest and a new perspective on an altered life situation. Humour also helped clients to show their emotions and to preserve their dignity. In the nurse–client relationship, humour enabled the client to communicate criticism or to express themselves. Nurses can alleviate clients' anxieties through humour, and humour can help nurses to cope.