NO JOKE: Clowns really do make kids more comfortable at hospitals, new study shows

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - They say laughter is the best medicine and that may especially be true for children stuck in a hospital and their parents. There's now medical proof that clowns – yes, clowns – are making that happen in hospitals everywhere.

According to new research in the British Medical Journal, clowns also improved children's well-being.

The tradition of hospital clowns became popular in the 1980s, so Luís Carlos Lopes-Júnior and his team reviewed 24 existing studies that measured the effects of clowns on young hospital patients. The results were published in the BMJ's December issue, which is known for some light-hearted studies.

"These findings suggest that the presence of hospital clowns during medical procedures, induction of anaesthesia in the preoperative room, and as part of routine care for chronic conditions might be a beneficial strategy to manage some symptom clusters," stated the study. "Furthermore, hospital clowns might help improve psychological wellbeing in admitted children and adolescents with acute and chronic disorders, compared with those who received only standard care."

And that's no surprise to Karen Shoulders of Circus Flora, which runs the Clowns On Call program at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis.

"It helps the children have an emotional release and there's a distraction when health care workers are doing different procedures," Shoulders says. "It also supports the family, that they're getting a bit of rest in. While the clowns are there the family gets a break."

Shoulders says they've had to pivot in 2020, doing virtual visits with the kids.

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