A systematic review of humour-based strategies for addressing public health priorities

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Objective: To systematically review research into the use of humour-based health promotion strategies for addressing public health issues during the past 10 years. Method: The systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Results: Thirteen studies were included in the review. Mental health, breast and testicular cancer self-examination, safe sex, skin cancer and binge drinking public health issues were targeted. Humour-based strategies were used to influence health attitudes and behaviours, encourage interpersonal sharing to indirectly affect health behaviour, and investigate the level of threat and humour associated with positive outcomes. Findings provided some evidence to support the use of humour-based strategies as determined by the right combination of audience characteristics, level of humour and amusement evoked, and message persuasion and behaviour change methods underpinning strategies. Conclusion: Methodologies varied limiting comparability, although overall results indicate that humour-based health promotion strategies may be a useful tool for increasing awareness and help-seeking behaviour for public health priorities, particularly those associated with stigma. Implications for public health: Humour interventions vary widely because there can never be a standardised approach to evoking humour. Further research examining humour and public health promotion is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-577
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • behaviour change
  • health promotion
  • humour
  • research translation
  • stigma

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