266371 Improving the quality of life and workplace productivity of 134 community health workers in South Africa with aerobic laughter therapy psychosocial support programs over three and six month periods

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 11:10 AM - 11:30 AM

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
Kathy Wiebe-Randeree, MBA , Office of the CEO, Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex, Klerksdorp, DC, South Africa
Estelle Du Toit, Professional Nurse , Nursing Management, Matlosana Hospice, Klerksdorp, GA, South Africa
Background: Community health workers experience high levels of stress. Many experience depression and burnout that can reduce the quality and quantity of care provided. Psychosocial support programs using aerobic laughter therapy (ALT) provide cognitive behavioral therapy within the framework of positive psychology. The efficacy of this program in improving the quality of life and productivity of community health workers was investigated in two groups of home based healthcare workers. Methods: 37 workers in Northwest province providing care to HIV affected adults and children (group 1), and 97 workers in Eastern Cape Province providing care to OVC (group 2), received ALT training and engaged in daily peer-to-peer ALT therapy group sessions of 10-15 minutes for six months and three months respectively. Qualitative, quantitative and performance assessments were conducted with participants before training, then after 2 weeks, 2, 4, and 6 months (group 1), and after 2 weeks and 2 months (group 2). Results: Results for group 1 showed dramatic reductions in absenteeism (52%), presenteeism, burnout, stress, depression, workplace conflict, and other factors known to reduce workplace efficacy. Similar increases were seen in happiness, satisfaction with life, problem solving ability, emotional intelligence, productivity (56%), and mindfulness. Participants reported significant improvements in patient relations and patient outcomes including adherence to medications and treatment. Results for group 2 confirmed these findings. Conclusions: Aerobic laughter based PSS programs can result in significant improvements in the quality of life and productivity of community health workers.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the dramatic reductions in stress, depression and burnout, and the increases in happiness, coping skills and workplace productivity achieved by implementing the aerobic laughter therapy psychosocial support program to community health workers in South Africa. Evaluate whether this program could provide similar benefits in community health worker groups that I work with.

Keywords: Mental Health, 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.