Satisfaction and the use of humor by physicians and patients

Fabio Sala, Edward Krupat, Debra Roter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The current study investigated the extent to which various types of humor are associated with high- and low-satisfaction doctor visits and whether male and female physicians and patients differ in their use of humor. A humor coding scheme, capable of distinguishing three categories (negative, positive, and general) and ten sub-types of humor, was validated against 92 audiotaped physician-patient primary care visits, half rated high and half rated low in satisfaction. Results revealed that physicians and patients used more light humor, more humor that relieves tension, more self-effacing humor, and more positive-function humor in high satisfaction than in low-satisfaction visits. In addition, the patients of female physicians used more humor than the patients of male physicians across levels of satisfaction. The results indicate a strong association between humor and satisfaction, and suggest ways in which humor and laughter help to maintain rapportin the physician-patient relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-280
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2002


  • Gender
  • Humor
  • Laughter
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Physician-patient relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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