Does laughter help cure the sick? Members of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor think so, even though, so far, they concede hard research is sparse and inconclusive.
At its convention in Chicago on March 1 and 2, the 16,000-member Phoenix-based group-made up of nurses, social workers, psychologists and some doctors-will discuss the first credit course on humor therapy offered by a U.S. medical school.
Dana Abendschein, who teaches the course at Washington University in St. Louis and has the clown persona of "Professor Dude," will speak.
Registered nurse Patty Wooten's scheduled topic is "Compassionate Laughter: Humor from the Heart." She says she will talk about her two clown characters, bold and bawdy Nancy Nurse and her whimsical, compassionate counterpart, Nurse Kindheart.
Rod Martin, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, will explain why research has yet to show a link between humor and physical health and psychological well being.