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Z Gerontol Geriatr. 2010 Feb;43(1):42-52. doi: 10.1007/s00391-009-0086-9.

[Humor therapy in the depressed elderly: results of an empirical study].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Abteilung für Gerontopsychiatrie und -psychotherapie, LVR-Klinik Bonn, Kaiser-Karl-Ring 20, 53111, Bonn, Deutschland.



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


For this purpose, an experimental group with treatment (52 patients participating in the humor group) was compared to a control group with no specific treatment (38 patients); all 90 participants had clinical depressive symptoms according to ICD-10 classification. Questionnaires (among them GDS, SF-12, State-Trait Cheerfulness Inventory, Satisfaction with Life Scale) were administered at two time points (pre- and post-treatment).


From pre- to post-measurement, significant improvements could be shown only in the experimental group for resilience and satisfaction with life (p<0.05). Analyses of the subgroups with at least medium to severe depression showed further significant effects for cheerfulness, seriousness, bad mood, and satisfaction with life (p<0.05). These severely affected patients seemed to profit best from humor therapy.


Our results indicate the efficacy of this specific therapeutic intervention for older depressed patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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