mise à jour du
15 novembre 2007
Knowledge, attitude and beliefs
of medical residents on yawning
R. Meenakshisundaram, P. Thirumalaikolundusubramanian
Sabita Diwakar
Institute of Internal Medicine, Madras Medical College, Chennai. India
O. Walusinski
 Yawning : comparative study of knowledge and beliefs,
popular and medical
Le bâillement : étude comparative des connaissances et croyances, populaires et médicales
le bâillement et l'Islam
Yawning - Sneezing A Dictionary of superstitions
L'éternuement et le bâillement dans la magie, l'ethnographie et le folklore médical P Saintyves 1921  Paris, E. Nourry.


Yawning is experienced by every one but rarely discussed. Hence, it was aimed to find out the knowledge, attitude and behavior of 100 medical residents (M=52&F=48) belonging to 39 medical colleges towards yawning. They were asked to answer at a stretch, an anonymous questionnaire which had 10 questions / statements each related to knowledge, attitude and beliefs on yawning without prior intimation. The data was analyzed by simple descriptive statistics. The knowledge of residents was suboptimal ; their attitude and beliefs reflected the existing social system. Since many like to learn and work on yawning, it is suggested to have regular classes on yawning in addition to seminar / symposium and special lectures on its various aspects and implication on health, disease and social aspects. To bring the concepts into practice, yawning should be discussed in theory classes and practical sessions as well as in examinations.
Des connaissances sur le bâillement doivent-elles être enseignées pendant les études de médecine?
Chacun bâille tous les jours et pourtant il est rarement question de ce comportement. Le Dr Meenakshi Sundaram a eu l'idée d'interroger 100 étudiants en médecine, du niveau de l'internat, de 39 écoles de médecine indiennes sur leurs connaissances, leurs regards et leurs interprétations des bâillements.
Chacun a eu à remplir un questionnaire anonyme comportant trois registres différents de 10 questions (sans connaître la finalité de ce questionnaire): connaissances théoriques, leurs perceptions et réactions face à leurs bâilements et à ceux d'autrui, leurs croyances s'y rapportant.
Les données recueillies ont été analysées par simple analyse statistique descriptive. Il en ressort que leurs connaissances théoriques étaient d'assez bon niveau. Pour les deux autres catégories de questions, leurs croyances reflétaient les attitudes du système social d'appartenance. Plusieurs ont manifesté leur intérêt pour approfondir leurs connaissances et ont découvert ainsi différents aspects de ce comportement qu'ils ignoraient et des conséquences socio-médicales qui peuvent en découler.
Il en ressort que la signification physiologique, clinique et pathologique qui se rattache au bâillement devrait être évoquée pendant les études médicales, tant d'un point de vue théorique qu'en enseignement clinique pratique.
Yawning is phylogenetically old stereo typical event that occurs in reptiles, fish, birds and mammals (1). Charcot (1825-1893) and Gilles de la Tourette (1857-1904) described yawning as a clinical sign, long since forgotten (2). Though enormous publications have come on yawning, it is not discussed in medical school. In view of that it was proposed to find out the knowledge, attitude and behavior of medical residents towards yawning.
In a meeting among medical residents belonging to various specialities, they were informed about the proposed study and asked to go through a pretested questionnaire on yawning. The questionnaire consisted of 10 statements each related to knowledge, attitude and behavior towards yawning. Participants were asked to read and answer each question in the respective columns with out revealing their identity and speciality. They were informed to give their responses as yes, do not know/no, and no comments. They were asked to mention the medical colleges from which they had graduated (MBBS degree). This survey was conducted at a stretch among one hundred participants without prior intimation. The data was analyzed by simple descriptive statistics.
Residents included were 58 boys and 42 girls and all answered to each statement. They were graduated from 39 different medical colleges at different periods. Their knowledge, attitude and beliefs towards yawning were shown in table 1. Overall their knowledge on yawning was suboptimal, as it was neither discussed in theory class (cognitive) nor in clinical case presentation. More over association between yawning and neurological or other diseases has been described as case reports in different journals.
Yawning and its functions (3) have phylogenetic and ontogenetic aspects. Available evidences support the fact that yawning has endocrine, neurotransmitter and pharmacological mechanisms (4,5) and also maintains or increases arousal response. Despite much promulgation, it is surprising that medical students lack knowledge on yawning. In a cursory survey of under graduate and post graduate question papers (of various specialities of three major medical universities) over the past 10 years, it was identified that no consideration was given to yawning. It looks imperative to provide more importance on theoretical aspects and clinical applications of yawning, and motivate students to work on the same.
Also, their attitude and beliefs towards yawning reflected the social system. It is gratifying to know that many are inclined to learn and work on yawning. Most of them come to know about yawning from their peers and family members. Relationship between yawning and disease status or pharmacological agents (6) was not at all discussed. Provine (7) suggested yawning was a potential area to develop, test theories of mind and better understand certain neuro and psycho-pathologies. In traditional indigenous medicine (Naturopathy), chewing has been suggested as one of the remedial measures for yawning.
When we discussed on the contributions of Walusinski and his website on yawning, students and faculties were surprised on the extensive works carried out. Overall it is suggested to teach and train students on various aspects of yawning and its implication on health and disease, through regular lecture classes, seminars/symposia. To bring the concepts of yawning into practice, these ought to be discussed in clinical classes while dealing with patients and students should be motivated to take up research projects.
  1. Walusinski O, Kurjak A, Andonotopo W, Azumendi G, Fetal yawning assessed by 3D and 4D sonography. The Ultarasound Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2005; 5: 210-217.
  2. Walusinski O, Deputte BL. Le bâillement: phylogénèse, éthologie, nosogénie. Rev Neurol 2004; 160: 1011-1021.
  3. Baenninger R. On yawning and its functions. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 1997; 4: 198-207.
  4. Walusinski O. Yawning: unsuspected avenue for a better understanding of arrousal and interoception. Medical Hypothesis 2006; 67: 6-14.
  5. Walusinski O. Le bâillement son histoire interne ou neurophysiologie du bâillement. Electroneurobiologia 2006; 14(4):175-202
  6. Nakamura &endash; Palacios EM, Bueno OFA, Takahashi RN. Tubik S. Acute or chronic effects of cannabinoids on spontaneous or pharamacologically induced yawning in rats. Pharamacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour 2002; 74: 205-212.
  7. Provine RP. Yawning. American scientist 2005; 93: 532-539.
  8. Edsman CM Gähnen in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Galling K and Werbeck W, ed. Tübingen. Mohr. 1958. 7 vols (vol 2), 1186.