Humor trainings have positive effects on mental health and well-being. However, studies investigating the effects of humor trainings in clinical samples are still rare. This study investigated the efficacy and feasibility of a humor training for people suffering from depression, anxiety and adjustment disorders.
Based on a diagnostic interview (SCID I and II), 37 people were randomized into a training (n=19) or wait list control group (n=18) and completed questionnaires at pre, post, and 1month follow-up. After the training group had completed its training and evaluation measures, the wait list control group received the training and the outcomes of the group were additionally evaluated (post2 and follow-up2).
After training, improvements in humor-related outcomes were observed for the training group, but these were relativized when compared to the wait list control group. Secondary outcomes remained unaffected by the training. In addition, the training group reported interpersonal difficulties. Within-group analyses of the wait list control group after completion of their training showed effects on almost all primary and secondary outcomes and feedback indicated a better atmosphere.
In summary, the different outcomes of the two groups are surprising and can show potential moderators of efficacy, such as interpersonal and group-specific climate variables. Since moderators of humor trainings in clinical samples have not been investigated at all, future studies should consider integrating them into their design.