262134 Impact of an aerobic laughter therapy psychosocial support program on the mental wellbeing of 90 women providing home based care for orphans and vulnerable children from AIDS in a three month community based program in South Africa

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Memory Matanda, MSc (psychology) , HappyMetrics, InHappiness (International Happiness Institute), Johannesburg, DC, South Africa
Bill Gee, Laughterologist , InHappiness (International Happiness Institute), Johannesburg, South Africa
Malik Jaffer, MPH , United States Agency for International Development, Pretoria, GA, South Africa
Background: Home based healthcare workers providing care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) experience high levels of stress. Many experience depression, burnout, and negative emotions. These have been shown to reduce their emotional intelligence, mindfulness, quality of life and satisfaction with life, and to increase their risk of lifelong physical and mental health problems. Psychosocial support programs using aerobic laughter therapy (ALT) provide cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) within the framework of positive psychology. Dramatic reductions in stress, depression and burnout have been shown in previous ALT trials with smaller samples in palliative and HIV/AIDS care settings. The efficacy of this programs in reducing stress, depression and burnout in healthcare staff was investigated in a larger sample. Methods: A sample of 90 home based care workers in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, received ALT training and engaged in daily peer-to-peer ALT therapy group sessions of 10-15 minutes for three months. Qualitative and quantitative assessments were conducted with participants before training, then after 2 weeks, and 2 months. Results: Dramatic reductions were seen in stress, mood swings, depression and burnout. Increased happiness, hope, and wellbeing; increased satisfaction with life, and reduction in stress indicators including crying, sleep problems, body pain, headaches and migraine, and digestive problems were found. Participants reported significantly improved coping skills and work efficacy. Conclusions: Aerobic laughter based PSS programs can be rolled out quickly and effectively and can result in significantly improved mental health and wellbeing in OVC healthcare workers care without the need for mental health professionals.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the improvements in mental wellbeing of home based healthcare workers resulting from an aerobic laughter therapy psychosocial support program.

Keywords: Home Visiting, Well-Being

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a senior technical advisor for health systems strengthening including improving health workforce retention and effectiveness. Among my scientific interests has been the design, testing and evaluating of programs to improve the well-being of health care workers.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.