Laughter is good medicine — particularly for children.
Funny films and TV shows that made children laugh helped them to tolerate pain for longer periods of time, according to a new study.
Researchers studied 18 healthy boys and girls, aged 12 to 16, by passing a 50-degree chest of ice water around and asking the children to place their hands in the cold water for a maximum of three minutes.
The study, conducted by the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California Los Angeles and the Rx Laughter, a non-profit organization, measured their ability to submerge their hands before, during and after watching a funny video and found that the children who watched funny shows left their hands in the ice water for longer periods of time.
The group demonstrated greater pain tolerance while watching funny classic and contemporary films and television series, according to the study published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Researchers also recorded the volunteers’ appraisal of the pain and noted submersion times and examined them in relation to the number of laughs or smiles and the children’s ratings of how funny the show was for them.
“We found that viewing funny videos increased the tolerance of pain for children, but did not change their ratings of the severity of the pain,” said Dr. Margaret Stuber, a researcher in the Jonsson Cancer Center and the lead author of the study. “Although they kept their hands in the water longer, they didn’t describe the task as any less painful than when they weren’t watching the videos. However, this may mean that it simply took longer for the pain to become severe enough to remove their hand.”
Further studies will be conducted to examine the mechanism of increased pain tolerance.