Humor in radiological breast cancer screening: a way of improving patient service?

Sartoretti, Elisabeth; Sartoretti, Thomas; Koh, Dow Mu; Sartoretti-Schefer, Sabine; Kos, Sebastian; Goette, Romana; Donners, Ricardo; Benz, Robyn; Froehlich, Johannes M; Matoori, Simon; Dubsky, Peter; Plümecke, Tino; Forstner, Rosemarie; Ruch, Willibald; Meissnitzer, Matthias; Hergan, Klaus; Largiader, Selina; Gutzeit, Andreas (2022). Humor in radiological breast cancer screening: a way of improving patient service? Cancer imaging : the official publication of the International Cancer Imaging Society, 22(1), p. 57. BioMed Central 10.1186/s40644-022-00493-z

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Breast cancer screening is essential in detecting breast tumors, however, the examination is stressful. In this study we analyzed whether humor enhances patient satisfaction.


In this prospective randomized study 226 patients undergoing routine breast cancer screening at a single center during October 2020 to July 2021 were included. One hundred thirty-two were eligible for the study. Group 1 (66 patients) received an examination with humorous intervention, group 2 (66 patients) had a standard breast examination. In the humor group, the regular business card was replaced by a self-painted, humorous business card, which was handed to the patient at the beginning of the examination. Afterwards, patients were interviewed with a standardized questionnaire. Scores between the two study groups were compared with the Mann-Whitney U test or Fisher's exact test. P-values were adjusted with the Holm's method. Two-sided p-values < 0.05 were considered significant.


One hundred thirty-two patients, 131 female and 1 male, (mean age 59 ± 10.6 years) remained in the final study cohort. Patients in the humor group remembered the radiologist's name better (85%/30%, P < .001), appreciated the final discussion with the radiologist more (4.67 ± 0.73-5;[5, 5] vs. 4.24 ± 1.1-5;[4, 5], P = .017), felt the radiologist was more empathetic (4.94 ± 0.24-5;[5, 5] vs.4.59 ± 0.64-5;[4, 5], P < .001), and rated him as a humorous doctor (4.91 ± 0.29-5;[5, 5] vs. 2.26 ± 1.43-1;[1, 4], P < .001). Additionally, patients in the humor group tended to experience less anxiety (p = 0.166) and felt the doctor was more competent (p = 0.094).


Humor during routine breast examinations may improve patient-radiologist relationship because the radiologist is considered more empathetic and competent, patients recall the radiologist's name more easily, and value the final discussion more.


We have a general approval from our ethics committee because it is a retrospective survey, the patient lists for the doctors were anonymized and it is a qualitative study, since the clinical processes are part of the daily routine examinations and are used independently of the study. The patients have given their consent to this study and survey.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic, Interventional and Paediatric Radiology

UniBE Contributor:

Benz, Robyn Melanie


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




BioMed Central




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

10 Oct 2022 14:58

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:26

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Humor Mammography Psychology




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