The Humour Projects

Consideration in regard to use of humour in forensic mental health nursing would seem possibly incongruous; given the usually serious situations surrounding the admission and detention of the forensic mental health inpatient. Yet studies have indicated that the use of humour as an element of mental health staffs interactions with forensic mental health inpatients warrants further investigation (Gildberg et al. 2010; Gildberg et al. 2012). International research literature relating to forensic mental health and the use of humour is currently sparse, but if humor plays a significant role in the interactions between staff and patients (positive or negative) we (researchers and staff) need to be aware of this in order to further develop and evaluate existing nursing knowledge in this regard. Therefore, by conducting further research, these projects examines what characterises staffs-patients use of humour and what significance humour holds within the forensic mental health setting.

Collaboration contacts:
Frederik A. Gildberg: fgildberg[a]
Forensic Mental Health Research Unit Middelfart (RFM),Department of Regional Health Research, Faculty of Health Science, University of Southern Denmark & Psychiatric dept. Middelfart, Mental Health Services in the Region of Southern Denmark. 

Gildberg, F.A., Paaske, K.J., Rasmussen, V.L., Nissen, R.D., Bradley, S.K., Hounsgaard, L. 2016. Humour: Power conveying social structures inside forensic mental health nursing. Journal of Forensic Nursing. Research: Article, peer reviewed. Status: Published

According to research literature, humor inside the staff–patient interaction seems to be significant in the area of forensic mental healthcare. However, existing literature on the subject is limited. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the characteristics of the use humor by forensic mental health staff members in interactions with forensic mental health inpatients. The study included 32 forensic mental health staffmembers, used 307 hours of participant observations, 48 informal interviews, and seven formal semistructured interviews. Outcomes identify four themes concerning the conveyance of power to, from, and between forensic mental health staff and patients as they interact: (a) “the informal use: the human-to-human approach,” characterized by an informal use of humor and without any reference tomental health issues; (b) the “formal use of humor: the staff–patient approach,” characterized as formalwith a view on the patient as mentally ill, unable to understand humor, and with the aim of using humor to prevent conflicts or negative behavior; (c) “protest against requested care: the human–patient approach,” characterized by the use of humor as a protest against requested care; and the use of (d) “inadequacy humor: the staff–human approach,” characterized by the use of inadequacy—humor referring to, for example, patients’ physical features. Recommendations and clinical implications are discussed.

Gildberg, F.A., Bradley, S.K., Paaske, K.J. & Hounsgaard, L. 2014. Forensic psychiatric nursing: a literature review and thematic analysis of published literature on humour used in forensic mental health staff-patient interactions. Vol. 10, No. 2, 98-105 Journal of Forensic Nursing.Artikel, peer reviewed. Status: Published.

Humor utilized in the practice of forensic mental health nursing might seem somehow inappropriate, given the serious circumstances surrounding most forensic mental health patients. However, some recent research has pointed to the use of humor as an important component in staff interactions with forensic mental health patients. This study reviews the existing international forensic mental health research literature on humor to investigate (a) what characterizes forensic mental health staff–patient use of humor and (b) what significance humor holds within the forensic mental health setting. The search was conducted in June 2013. Scopus, CINAHL, PubMed, and PsychINFO were searched using keywords relevant to the study. Articles were categorized using a literature matrix and analyzed using thematic analysis. Twelve research articles were reviewed and included in the analysis. Three themes were identified: (a) “humor as staff skill,” showing that staff found humor to be important as an interpersonal ability; (b) “humor as a relational tool” with the purpose of establishing and maintaining staff–patient interactions; and (c) “the impact of humor on patients,” describing impacts on conflicts, dimensions of health, and motivation. The results of the analysis are however limited because of the dearth of published articles on the subject.