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Abstract: SA-PO785

Intradialytic Laughter Therapy: A Qualitative Study

Session Information

Category: Dialysis

  • 601 Standard Hemodialysis for ESRD


  • Bennett, Paul N, Satellite Healthcare, San Jose, California, United States
  • Schiller, Brigitte, Satellite Healthcare, San Jose, California, United States
  • Kalife, Christine, Satellite Healthcare, San Jose, California, United States
  • Vo, John H, Satellite Healthcare, San Jose, California, United States

Hemodialysis patients experience poor physical function and increased anxiety and depression. Intradialytic Laughter Therapy is a group therapy that can be performed while patients are on hemodialysis. Laughter Therapy combines elements of physical activity, intentional laughter, controlled deep breathing and meditation. Laughter Therapy has been shown to increase exercise in the facial, chest, abdominal and skeletal muscles, reduce stress, reduce anxiety and counteract depressive symptoms in non-dialysis patients. The aim of this study was to explore patients’ and staff perceptions of an Intradialytic Laughter Therapy program.


Intradialytic Laughter Therapy was delivered in two separate regional US hemodialysis clinics consisting of 30 minute sessions during dialysis, once per week for 3 months. Patients and clinical hemodialysis staff from the two clinics were surveyed and then interviewed using semi-structured interviews immediately following the 3 month program of Intradialytic Laughter Therapy. Content analysis of survey free text and interview transcript data identified coded items that were categorized into themes.


58 patients and 25 clinical hemodialysis staff were surveyed and interviewed. The four major themes emerging from the survey interview data were: (1) dialysis is boring and depressing, (2) laughter improved mood, health and wellbeing, (3) improved connections and community and (4) not for everyone. Laughter therapy made people feel happy, and helped them forget about their problems and the boredom of dialysis. Laughter therapy brought people together and establish comradery improving the rapport between staff and patients. Although Laughter Therapy was embraced by most patients those patients who felt indifferent still recommended continuing laughter therapy for the benefit of other patients and staff who they knew enjoyed the Laughter Therapy.


Intradialytic Laughter Therapy is a safe, complementary therapy that can be used during hemodialysis to improve interpersonal interaction, help build group identity, solidarity, and cohesiveness and increase intradialytic physical activity. Laughter Therapy has been shown to be a positive therapy and can be seen as an important element to improve patient and staff experience in US hemodialysis clinics.