Enhancing Health-Related Quality of Life for Cancer Patients – The Power of Laughter Yoga
Chemotherapy is often an integral part of cancer treatment, but it often brings about various physical, psychological, and emotional challenges for patients. As health professionals, it is our responsibility to explore complementary and integrative therapies that can improve the all-round well-being of cancer patients, either as standalone treatments or in conjunction with conventional approaches.
Laughter yoga, an exercise that promotes laughter as a therapeutic tool, has shown promise in enhancing health and quality of life in both healthy individuals and those with chronic diseases. However, its impact on cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy has yet to be extensively studied in clinical settings. In this article, we delve into the findings of a randomised clinical trial investigating the effects of laughter yoga on the health-related quality of life of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
Study Design and Methodology
The study, conducted at the Reza Radiotherapy and Oncology Center in Iran in 2018, involved 69 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The participants were randomly divided into two groups: An intervention group and a control group. The intervention group received laughter yoga sessions over a 4-week period, with each session lasting 20-30 minutes. The laughter yoga sessions were conducted at weekly intervals. To assess the health-related quality of life, the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 version 3.0 questionnaire was administered to all participants before and after the laughter yoga sessions. The collected data were analysed using various statistical tests, such as Chi-square, independent t-test, Mann-Whitney, Wilcoxon, and paired t-tests.
Results and Findings
The intervention group consisted of 34 participants, while the control group had 35. There were no significant differences in demographic and disease-related characteristics or pre-intervention health-related quality of life between the two groups. However, in the intervention group, significant improvements were observed in various domains of the health-related quality of life following the laughter yoga sessions. These improvements were seen in emotional functioning, physical functioning, role functioning, fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance, and global health and quality of life (p < 0.05). On the other hand, no significant changes were observed in the control group. Importantly, no adverse events were reported by the participants throughout the study.
The results of this randomized clinical trial demonstrate that incorporating structured laughter yoga sessions into the care of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy can effectively enhance their health-related quality of life. The improvements observed in emotional and physical functioning, as well as reductions in fatigue, pain, and sleep disturbances, highlight the potential benefits of laughter yoga as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatment. Health professionals have the opportunity to embrace laughter yoga as a routine component of care, thereby providing widespread benefits to cancer patients.
Implications for Health Professionals
At The CMA, we believe that it is crucial for all health professionals to expand their horizons beyond conventional treatments and explore the many ways that complementary therapies that can positively impact patients’ lives.
The findings of this study emphasise the potential of laughter yoga as a valuable addition to cancer care. By integrating laughter yoga into routine treatment protocols, we can enhance the health-related quality of life of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, offering them a means to cope with the physical and emotional challenges they face. Laughter yoga sessions can be easily incorporated into hospital, hospice and home-care settings and delivered by trained professionals or integrated into existing supportive care programs.
Moving forward, more research is needed to further investigate the long-term effects of laughter yoga on cancer patients. By continuing to explore and embrace complementary approaches such as laughter yoga, we can provide holistic care that addresses the comprehensive needs of cancer patients and supports their journey towards improved well-being and quality of life.
Namazinia, M, Mazlum, SR, Mohajer, S, & Lopez, V (2023). Effects of laughter yoga on health-related quality of life in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy: A randomized clinical trial. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 23(1), 192. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-023-04028-2.