266384 Can aerobic laughter therapy psychosocial support programs Improve the quality of life and productivity of social workers? Results from 134 community health workers and 125 hospital health care workers in South Africa show promise

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 1:30 PM - 1:50 PM

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: Social workers experience high levels of stress. Many experience depression and burnout that can reduce quality of life and productivity. Psychosocial support programs using aerobic laughter therapy (ALT) provide cognitive behavioral therapy within the framework of positive psychology. The efficacy of this program was investigated in three groups that experience similar stressful work conditions. Methods: 37 workers in Northwest province providing care to HIV affected adults and children (group 1), 97 workers in Eastern Cape Province providing care to AIDS orphans and vulnerable children (group 2), and 125 highly stressed hospital workers (group 3) received ALT training and engaged in daily peer-to-peer ALT therapy group sessions of 10-15 minutes for six, three, and nine months respectively. Qualitative, quantitative and performance assessments were conducted with participants before training, then after 2 weeks, 2, 4, 6 months (group 1), and after 2 weeks and 2 months (group 2), and after 2 weeks, 2, 4, 6, and 9 months (group 1). Results: Results for group 1 showed dramatic increases in problem solving ability, emotional intelligence, and productivity (56%). Reductions were seen in absenteeism (52%), presenteeism, burnout, stress, depression, and workplace conflict. Participants reported significant improvements in patient relations and outcomes including adherence to medications and treatment. Results for group 2 confirmed these findings. Data for group 3 is being collected. Conclusions: Aerobic laughter based PSS programs can result in significant improvements in the quality of life and productivity of highly stressed healthcare workers. Similar results are expected in social worker groups.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
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

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how aerobic laughter based psychosocial support programs increases problem solving ability, emotional intelligence, and productivity (56%), and reduced absenteeism (52%), presenteeism, burnout, stress, depression, and workplace conflict in highly stressed healthcare workers. Assess whether this program could be valuable to social worker groups you work with.

Keywords: Wellness, Mental Health

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.