Second Major



Quilliam, Brian

Advisor Department

Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


DiCioccio, Rachel

Advisor Department

Communication Studies




Humor, Medical Communication

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License


While for many healthcare is no laughing matter, humor can be a valuable tool for physicians. Hospitals and other healthcare environments can be very stressful places for patients, many of whom are having the worst day of their lives. Humor is an excellent medium through which doctors can connect with their patients, improving the doctor-patient relationship. Patients will often use humor as a way to cope with their stress, and doctors with a sense of humor are able to better connect with their patients. This use of humor has many applications across different fields of medicine, including pediatrics, oncology, palliative care, chronic care, and the treatment of addiction. Humor can also be a valuable tool for communication, and the use of it can help doctors connect with their patients, identify their boundaries, and pass on the information necessary for their health and wellbeing. The medical profession can also be very stressful for those responsible for providing care, and humor can be used as a way for doctors and nurses to combat stress and compassion fatigue. Humor is used in this case both to communicate and as a coping mechanism. I decided to use my honors project to develop my skill in humor communication through the development and performance of stand-up comedy. The purpose of doing this is to learn how to craft jokes towards a target audience, and to study what makes something funny. As an aspiring physician, I believe that the development of my humor communication skill will be invaluable, as I will both be able to better connect with patients, and develop a coping mechanism necessary in this stressful career.