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A qualitative study of the shared experience of humour between people living with dementia and their partners

Hickman, Helen; Clarke, Chris; Wolverson, Emma


Helen Hickman

Christopher Clarke
Clinical Lecturer (research) and Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Dr Emma Wolverson
Senior Lecturer Ageing and Dementia. MSc Dementia programme co-director.


Humour is a complex social and emotional experience which could constitute a positive resource for people endeavouring to live well with dementia. However, little is currently known about the shared use and value of humour in dyads where one person has dementia. The purpose of this study was therefore to explore how people with dementia and their care partners experience, use and draw meaning from humour in relation to their shared experiences of dementia and their ongoing relationships. Ten participant dyads (the person with dementia and their spousal partner) took part in joint semi-structured interviews. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis revealed eight subthemes that were subsumed under three superordinate themes: ‘Humour has always been there and always will be’; ‘Withstanding Dementia’ and ‘Renewing the Value of Humour in Dementia’. Overall, the findings suggest that humour, in different forms, can represent a salient and enduring relationship strength that helps dyads maintain well-being and couplehood by providing a buffer against stressors associated with dementia. The findings highlight the potential value of integrating a dyadic perspective with strengths-based approaches in future research into how people live well with dementia.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Dementia
Print ISSN 1471-3012
Electronic ISSN 1741-2684
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Hickman, H., Clarke, C., & Wolverson, E. (in press). A qualitative study of the shared experience of humour between people living with dementia and their partners. Dementia,
Keywords Dementia; Humour; Couplehood; Relationships; Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Publisher URL


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