Date of Conferral





Human Services


Tracey Phillips


Traditionally from a positive psychological view, humor is regarded as an adaptive force, a vital aspect of healing, and possibly a beneficial coping tool when faced with traumatic circumstances. Despite these beliefs, little is known about how humor relieves stress with parents in the initial intake assessment when their child has been traumatically injured. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore social workers' use of humor during pediatric trauma assessments. A sample of 6 parents were from pediatric parent trauma support groups to participate in this study, which employed a subject-intensive theoretical framework. Face-to-face interviews and participant observation were used to analyze the experience of the parents with the social worker that used some form of humor consisting of jokes, laughter, smiles, and verbal or nonverbal body language during their intake process. All encounters were audio taped and the data were manually transcribed. Theming was used to analyze the data of the study, and 9 themes emerged with a set of subthemes. The findings provided narratives from the parents regarding their initial perceptions of the social worker, forms of humor used, parenting skills, and factors that either support or oppose the social workers' intake assessment using humor. The study also reaffirms the benefits of the use of some form of humor in the pediatric medical field, revealing that humor benefits not only help the children, but parents and clinicians as well. These findings provide an outlook on how social workers make connections with parents at the onset of the hospital experience to create better lines of communication and improve relationships for all parties. The findings have implications for training and raise awareness around social workers use of humor in pediatric trauma assessments.

Included in

Social Work Commons