Medical jokes portray an unflattering picture of doctors in general

From this French study:

Sociological studies have shown the link between humor and unconscious ideas that we have of the society in which we evolve. Researchers conducted a survey to answer the question: "What were the stereotypes of our medical profession that emerge from a transcript of jokes collected in a medical population?"

Recruitment of the source population (doctors and medical students) was done through different personal and professional mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, and medical press. The inclusion period was 6 weeks (from June 6 to July 14, 2013). Each physician recruited received the link to the study authors' blog: which contained a link to the questionnaire.

Physicians responded to the following simple proposition: "tell the joke involving doctors you laugh the most".

Analysis of jokes was made by 3 investigators. First, two investigators pooled of results to generate a stereotype for each joke. Then a triangulation was made with a third investigator, to determine the final stereotype.

512 jokes were collected on the site and 448 were included in the analysis. The gender of respondents was 284 men (63%) and 164 women (37%).

156 different stereotypes were classified into 6 themes:

- Anesthesiologists were represented as lazy, inveterate coffee drinkers and less awakened than their sleeping patients.

- Surgeons were seen as megalomaniac, tyrannical with other professions, operating without thinking, as their "brain down to a neuron."

- Medical students appeared docile and absurd.

- Psychiatrists were as "crazy as their patients, sometimes passing them to the consultation and looking only at their past relationship."

Researchers claim that the stereotypes contained in the medical jokes were quite caricatured and portrayed an unflattering picture of doctors in general.

Video: "You can never Trust Doctors" (embedded above).

I'm sure some patients and doctors will not find this Eurosport commercial funny, and they probably have a point. Humor may be difficult to explain and interpret. Some social media "experts" even advise doctors not to use humor on Twitter, Facebook and blogs for fear of misinterpretation and legal repercussions.

However, humor is what makes us human. It can also help with the healing process and provide some relief at a time when you need it the most. The commercial above may not provide the best example for that particular purpose but I think you get the point.

Comments from Twitter: @scanman: Ha!! I do this ALL THE TIME!!!


[The jokes are vectors of stereotypes. Example of the medical profession from 220 jokes.] [Article in French] Presse Med. 2014 Oct 2. pii: S0755-4982(14)00419-9. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2014.05.013. [Epub ahead of print]

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