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Is there a role for clowns in paediatric intensive care units?
  1. Guillaume Mortamet1,2,
  2. Nadia Roumeliotis3,
  3. Florence Vinit4,5,
  4. Caroline Simonds6,
  5. Laurent Dupic1,
  6. Philippe Hubert1
  1. 1 Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Hôpital Necker, Paris, France
  2. 2 Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  3. 3 Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, CHU Sainte-Justine, Montreal, Québec, Canada
  4. 4 Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montreal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  5. 5 Organization ‘La Fondation Jovia’, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  6. 6 Organization ‘Le Rire Médecin’, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Guillaume Mortamet, Department of Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Necker Hospital, 89 av Zola, Paris 75015, France; mortam{at}


Hospital clowning is a programme in healthcare facilities involving visits from specially trained actors. In the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), clowning may appear inappropriate and less intuitive. The patient could appear too ill and/or sedated, the environment too crowded or chaotic and the parents too stressed. Relying on our experience with professionally trained clowns both in France and Canada, the purpose of this article is to offer a model for hospital clowning and to suggest standards of practice for the implementation of clowning in PICUs. In this work, we provide a framework for the implementation of clown care in the PICU, to overcome the challenges related to the complex technical environment, the patient's critical illness and the high parental stress levels. Regardless of the specifics of the PICU, our experience suggests that professional clown activity is feasible, safe and can offer multiple benefits to the child, his/her parents and to hospital personnel. Due to the specific challenges in the PICU, clowns must be educated and prepared to work in this highly specialised environment. We stress that prior to clowning in a PICU, professional performers must be highly trained, experienced, abide by a code of ethics and be fully accepted by the treating healthcare team.

  • Intensive Care
  • Child Psychology
  • General Paediatrics

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  • Contributors GM, NR and FV drafted the manuscript, revised it and approved the final version. CS, LD and PH revised and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This project was executed without specific support.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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