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CKD Research

Laughter Therapy

Listen to NephTalk with Dr. Paul Bennett



The sounds of laughter seem incongruous within the normal atmosphere of a dialysis center. But a new laughter therapy program at Satellite Healthcare centers across the country is breaking the mold.

The man driving the innovative program – the first laughter therapy at any U.S. dialysis operation – is Paul Bennett.

Satellite recruited the Australian researcher less than a year ago after he’d completed a program at Stanford University. Satellite’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brigitte Schiller, thought his work on laughter therapy might yield results for Satellite. She was right.

Results of the pilot project are positive. Laughter therapy was tested at two separate centers in 30-minute sessions once a week for each MWF or TTS schedule. Over three months, about 60 patients and 25 staff participated. A report being readied for the American Society of Nephrologists shows:

  1. Laughter improved mood, health and wellbeing
  2. It improved connections and community
  3. It wasn’t for everyone, although even those who did not participate noted the positive benefits for others

Laughter therapy has also been shown to increase exercise in the facial, chest, abdominal and skeletal muscles, reduce stress, reduce anxiety and counteract depressive symptoms.

The program includes a mixture of exercise, meditation and laughter, all designed to be done while patients are undergoing treatment. A certified laughter therapist leads the festivities and the staff takes part in the merriment.

Bennett said he has identified a handful of certified laughter therapists in California’s Bay Area and is expanding his network to more Satellite communities.