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'The Business of Health Care Report'

A Prescription for Laughter
03/31/2008

Click to listen to the taped broadcast.

I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

April 14 is International Moment of Laughter Day, and I’d like to encourage employers, employees, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters to consider it a prescription for improved health.

Successful participation in Moment of Laughter Day requires bringing about a good belly laugh – not just a smile – in people you encounter throughout the day. Not only will this promote healthy attitudes and a cheerful environment, it will have a positive impact on the health of those around you.

Scholars, philosophers, scientists, and even Old Testament authors have pointed to the relationship between laughter and wellness. Proverbs 17:33 says, “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” Dr. William Fry of Stanford University, a pioneer of laughter research, equated laughter to exercise. Loma Linda University researchers discovered that laughter boosts the immune system. University of Maryland cardiologists found that it increases blood flow and may help protect against heart attack.

At Texas Health, we’ve done some laughter research of our own. Marcy Graves, a respiratory therapist at Texas Health Harris Methodist in Southwest Fort Worth, conducted a clinical study measuring the effects of humor therapy on pneumonia patients.

She found that patients who incorporated laughter into their regularly ordered respiratory therapy had better clinical outcomes than those who did not.

It remains to be seen, perhaps, whether laughter is the best medicine, but as prescriptions go, I’d say it’s definitely among the easiest to take.

For Texas Health Resources and our faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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