• aged nursing;
  • humour;
  • patients;
  • nurses

Isola A & Åstedt-Kurki P. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1997; 3: 29–33

Humour as experienced by patients and nurses in geriatric nursing in Finland

Humour is an integral part of everyday life and therefore a component of the care and treatment of elderly patients in the modern health care. This article deals with the role of humour in aged nursing from the perspective of the nursing home residents. It also describes some preliminary results of our study on the meaning of humour to professional nurses. The chief motivation for the study is to provide a deeper understanding of humour as a part of aged nursing and as a ‘phenomenon’, which should also help us in the continuing challenge to improve the quality of nursing care. In this study the qualitative approach was used because the focus of interest was on an issue that has received only little attention in earlier research. The research material consists of data from patients and nurses. The data were collected via interviews and essay-type responses. The data obtained were analysed using the qualitative method of content analysis. In the light of our findings here, humour can be described as a joie de vivre which manifests itself in human interaction in the form of fun, jocularity and laughter. The assumption is supported by earlier research results which indicated that humour is an individual and personal matter and, in aged nursing care it is also very much a context-bound phenomenon. Humour makes it easier for some of the elderly patients to experience a positive, human relationship with the nurse. According to the results it seems to us that research should be continued and intensified into the role and use of humour in elderly people’s everyday life and particularly in gerontological nursing care.