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Sydney Multisite Intervention of LaughterBosses and ElderClowns (SMILE): a randomised controlled trial of humour therapy in residential care

A/Prof Lee-Fay Low, Prof Henry Brodaty, Prof Lynn Chenoweth, Prof Richard Fleming, Dr Peter Spitzer, Mr Jean-Paul Bell, A/Prof Belinda Goodenough, Ms Anne-Nicole Casey
Research Centre DCRC Assessment and Better Care
Partner Institution Centre-based, funded by NHMRC Project Grant IDs 568787 and 455377
Project Description

About this project

The Sydney Multisite Intervention of LaughterBosses and ElderClowns (SMILE) is a randomised controlled trial of humour therapy.

About 400 residents from 36 hostels and nursing homes were randomly assigned to receive the either the SMILE intervention or usual care. For the intervention, ElderClowns visited weekly for 12 weeks, and staff volunteers were trained as LaughterBosses to bring humour to daily care routines.

SMILE evaluated the effects of humour therapy on

  • the level of mood and engagement in residents with depression or low engagement;
  • quality of life and behavioural disturbance of residents in residential aged care facilities (RACFs);
  • staff morale, satisfaction and turnover within RACFs;

The project will also look at the sustainability of the intervention program and its effects; as well as the costs and benefits.

Latest News
The SMILE Study has been completed
and the main results are published.

Interested in humour therapy for your staff/clientele? Please contact these agencies:

Play Up Program - Arts Health Institute

Laughterboss training - Humour Foundation

Ethics approval: University of New South Wales Human Research Ethics Committee - ref no. 08345 
Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry - ref no ACTRN12611000462987.
*The Clowns in Residence: Cases Under Study (CIRCUS) was a substudy that trained four low care residents to co-administer humour therapy in a high care unit.



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