The children's wards of major Australian hospitals are home to pediatricians, nurses, neonatologists and others. But in their ranks are some people whose jobs have little to do with medical schools - and a lot to do with a pie in the face.
French researchers say the use of clowns to help brighten the spirits of hospitalized kids, making treatment for such awful things as cancer far easier to deal with. In a study for the British medical journal The Lancet, researchers at Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif say clowns turn a grim environment into sources of fascination - for example, turning the dripping of an IV unit into the beat of a calypso song.
The researchers say the clowns and their young patients form a bond that is private - not even accessible to the doctors treating the youngsters. This allows the kids to express their feelings about what they're undergoing - sometimes in a confidential journal.
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