Doctor jokes: ‘ It’s a site for sore eyes’

Research suggests that humour has a positive effect on patients, so here goes

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy” – George Gershwin

It’s a bank holiday column this week. The last thing readers need is for me to interrupt Gershwin’s image of an easy-living summer; so let’s skip the heavy stuff and focus on medical humour.

Before we get to some gags, I’d like to say how useful I find humour in medical consultations. I use it with patients to lighten the mood and to emphasise our mutual humanity. It can never be scripted and instead relies on instinct. I need to have an established relationship with the person before I consider introducing humour into our exchange.

Research suggests that humour can have a positive effect on patients. In one study carried out in primary care, patients appreciated spontaneous humour from their doctors. Interestingly, they perceived that this occurred more often than their doctors recalled using it.


Humour can be particularly helpful in lowering anxiety, improving cognitive functioning, and easing coping strategies with pain and stress. A Canadian study of humour in critical and palliative care concluded that humour served to “enable co-operation, relieve tensions, develop emotional flexibility, and to ‘humanise’ the healthcare experience”.

Positive psychological and physiological responses to laughter have been shown in a variety of settings. These include stress-hormone reduction, mood improvement, increased creativity, pain reduction, improvement in immunity, and reduction in blood pressure.

Neurophysiological studies found that viewing a humorous video significantly decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in saliva.

While we are (hopefully) a long way from teaching medical humour courses to undergraduates, doctors could usefully reflect on interactions when humour either worked or caused discomfort for patients.

But enough of the theory. How about these observations I came across recently?

– Statistically . . . 9 out of 10 injections are in vein.

– Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

– I once heard a joke about amnesia, but I forgot how it goes.

– I tried to look up impotence on the internet, but nothing came up.

– – that’s a site for sore eyes.

– A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab centre: “Keep off the Grass.”

– Irony deficiency: when you don’t find health-related puns funny anymore.

And with apologies to older readers, I enjoyed these alternative explanations for common text acronyms allegedly in use in senior citizen circles.

BFF – best friend fell

BTW– bring the wheelchair

BYOT– bring your own teeth

FWIW- forgot where I was

GGPBL– gotta go, pacemaker battery low

GHA– got heartburn again

IMHO – is my hearing aid on?

LMDO – laughed my dentures out

OMSG – oh my, sorry gas

ROFLACGU– rolling on floor laughing and cannot get up

TTYL– talk to you louder

And an oldie but a goody:

Message heard on psychiatric hospital phone:

“Hello. Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.

“If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.

“If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.

“If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.

“If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.

“If you are anxious, just start pressing numbers at random.

“If you are phobic, don’t press anything.

“If you are anal retentive, please hold.”

Here’s to a relaxing week, keep laughing and remember:

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high

Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’

So hush, little baby, don’t you cry.