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Old 06-12-2018, 02:10 PM
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Default Laugh it up! Laughter therapy may reduce depression in MS

Pilot Investigation of the Effects of Laughter Therapy on Mood, Stress, and Self-Efficacy in People with Multiple Sclerosis and Other Central Nervous System Disorders.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Exhibit Hall A (Nashville Music City Center)
Theodore R Brown, MD, MPH , MS Center at Evergreen Health, Evergreen Health, Kirkland WA, WA
Virginia I Simnad, MD , EvergreenHealth Multiple Sclerosis Center, EvergreenHealth, Kirkland, WA

Laughter therapy (LT) combines laughter with breathing and body exercises. Typically, a session involves a group of people performing simulated laughter through a series of activities led by an instructor. LT may give health benefits through strengthening of breathing muscles, improving mood, and relieving pain and stress.


This was a single- center, prospective, open trial of LT for wellness effects in people with central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Our hypotheses were that LT would improve depression and anxiety as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7), respectively, and that effects would be sustained for 8 weeks.


We consented 31 participants with CNS disorders. They received 8 weekly classes of LT in groups of 8-12. Classes lasted 60-minutes and were taught by a certified LT instructor with over 5 years of teaching experience, including leading patient classes > 1 year before the study. Outcomes measured at baseline, end of treatment and at 8-week follow-up, included: PHQ-9, GAD-7, General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), Breathlessness Questionnaire (BQ), Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS-5), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10).


Diagnoses and number of subjects ( ) were: multiple sclerosis (17), Parkinsonís disease (8), spinal cord injury (2), Alzheimerís disease (1), stroke (1), and Huntingtonís disease (1). Mean age was 63.5 and 3 subjects were non-ambulatory. There were 16 subjects who did not complete the study and 14 who attended at least 6 classes and completed all endpoints. For the completing subjects, mean baseline and week 8 scores and mean change were: PHQ (6.8, 5.2, -1.6, reduction in score indicated less depression), and GAD-7 (2.8, 2.9, +0.1, indicating essentially no change in anxiety level). Results for the other outcomes and post-treatment follow-up results will be presented with final results.

Conclusions: This is the first trial of LT in a neurological cohort including multiple sclerosis diagnoses. Our findings show that LT may reduce depression and be administered across a variety of neurological deficits, including people with limited exercise options due to severe disability. We encountered a high attrition rate, indicating a potential shortcoming of this intervention in the neurologically impaired community

Dave Bexfield
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