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Laughing Matters: The Role of Humor on Psychological Well-being, Health, & QOL in MS

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  • Laughing Matters: The Role of Humor on Psychological Well-being, Health, & QOL in MS

    If you are not exercising with me, at least (I hope) you are laughing with me. Or at me. It's good for your health. - D

    Laughing Matters: The Role of Humor on Psychological Well-being, Health, & Quality of Life in Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

    ECTRIMS Online Library. Strober L. Oct 26, 2017; 200472Abstract: P817

    Type: Poster
    Abstract Category: Therapy - symptomatic - 34 Quality of life

    Background: Humor has been purported to play a role on stress, psychological well-being (PWB), and health, including immune function. Individuals who utilize humor have also been shown to have greater self-esteem and social functioning. We previously found that among a host of other disease and person factors, the use of humor played a large role in distinguishing individuals with MS who were considering leaving work and those staying employed.

    Objective: The purpose of the present study was to further examine the role of humor on perceived stress, PWB, health, self-efficacy/locus of control (LOC), and social functioning in MS. We also examined whether individuals who utilized humor as a coping mechanism were more likely to engage in other behaviors related to cognitive health such as diet/exercise and social/intellectual activities that may also assist in maintaining overall functioning.

    Method: 172 individuals with MS were administered a comprehensive battery assessing perceived stress, PWB, health, self-efficacy/LOC, social functioning, and health behaviors. A median split was utilized to divide the groups into high and low use of humor. Multivariate analyses were used to compare the two groups.

    Results: There were no differences between the groups on gender, age, education, or disease duration. Surprisingly, there were no differences between perceived stress. Despite this, individuals with high use of humor reported greater PWB, physical health, general and MS self-efficacy, LOC, and social support. In contrast, they endorsed lower levels of depression and anxiety (p's < .05). Individuals who reported using humor as a coping mechanism also reported engaging in more social and intellectual activities with a trend for diet and exercise, suggesting that they also engage in other tangible activities that can foster cognitive health.

    Conclusions: Use of humor has been considered complementary therapy in some medical populations for the reasons stated above. Little attention has been given to the use of humor in MS, despite many anecdotal experiences from patients. Further investigations into the role of humor on well-being and health in MS are warranted and may suggest the use of humor as an intervention to improve well-being and health.

    Dave Bexfield