Medicine and society: Responding to callous humor in health care

Nicole M. Piemonte, Shawn Abreu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although humor in health care can facilitate relationship building between patients and clinicians, callous humor used to deflect or dismiss distressing emotions undermines relationships, erodes trust, and expresses disregard for vulnerability. Because it affects collegiality, training, and patient care, callous humor should not be tolerated, especially when directed at patients. This article considers why it is important to respond to colleagues who make callous jokes and suggests how to do so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E608-E614
JournalAMA Journal of Ethics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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