The cheery English nanny Mary Poppins brought some happiness into her charges’ lives in the 1964 movie. But could the eponymous film and its Disney siblings perform a similar trick for older women undergoing chemo?
That’s what Medical University of Vienna researchers sought to discover in a 2018 study of 50 women with gynecologic cancer.
Half watched Disney movies during their six chemotherapy sessions over six months. The control group was left to their own devices, with most sleeping or reading instead.
The results, published this month in JAMA Network Open, showed the Disney watchers “felt less tense, irritable, depressed, and worried” than the control group.
They could choose from eight Disney flicks released from 1950 to 1989, including “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Mary Poppins.”
While their overall health status didn’t change, the Disney group had “fewer symptoms of fatigue, such as exhaustion, tiredness, and frustration, so patients felt less helpless.” And the Disney watchers’ mean quality-of-life scores jumped 16 points as measured by their answers to questionnaires during treatment, while the control group’s score barely budged; somewhat remarkably, they also posted better scores than healthy women in their age range.
But what effect could other movies have on patients’ moods? Outliers will eagerly await the Disney vs. David Lynch study.