ZURICH UNIVERSITY

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RED NOSES clown visits
promote positive emotions from patients 

Collaborating with RED NOSES International (RNI), the University of Zurich recently concluded a long-term research project at the AUVA Rehabilitation Center in Bad Haring, Austria. RED NOSES clowns have been regularly visiting this facility since 2004. The Swiss research team investigated the unique effect of a humorous clown intervention on patients’ emotional state in comparison to different kind of intervention in a hospital setting. Rehabilitation patients aged between 18 and 80 years of age were the focus group of the study.

Current research on the effects of humorous clown visits is limited to studies on the reduction of stress and anxiety for children before medical operations. This new study is the first that explores the emotional state of patients in a controlled environment. 

The results showed that in addition to supporting the essential work carried out by hospital staff, RED NOSES clowns proved to be an important component in creating positive experiences. 

- RED NOSES clowns brought higher levels of amusement in patients

- As an additional effect, the patients felt valued and privileged by the clowns.

- The patients formed an emotional connection with the RED NOSES clowns. This is an indication of the uniqueness of clown visits in nursing homes.

- The positive and humorous effect by clown interventions was not only felt by the patient. The study also suggested that those who observed the interaction between the clown and the patient were also emotionally affected. The clowns, through direct contact with the patient, provided a positive impact for observers like parents, relatives, friends, or caregivers.

The results clearly support the benefits of hospital clown interventions for the elicitation of a positive emotional state in patients. Clowns working in hospitals should be encouraged to continue their work with patients in need of care. Through their contact with the patients, the clowns are in a unique position to make a lasting impression. 

The results were published in the journal "Translational Issues in Psychological Science", managed by the American Psychological Association (APA) and can be read here.

* Auerbach, S., Ruch, W., & Fehling, A. (2016). Positive emotions elicited by clowns and nurses: An experimental study in a hospital setting. Translational Issues in Psychological Science (Special Issue: The Psychology of Humor), 2, 14-24.

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