J Commun. 2011 Jun;61(3):432-464.
Despite much research on the beneficial effects of written disclosure, relatively little attention has been paid to specifying the mechanism underlying the effects. Building upon the two theoretical models (the cognitive adaptation model and the emotional exposure-habituation model), this research focused on two aspects of disclosure content—insights and emotions—and examined how women with breast cancer benefit from written disclosure in online support groups. Using survey data collected at baseline and after four months and messages posted in bulletin-board-type online groups in between, we analyzed how the content of disclosive messages predicted health outcomes. Disclosure of insights led to greater improvements in health self-efficacy, emotional well-being, and functional well-being, which was mediated by lowered breast cancer concerns. Disclosure of negative emotions did not have main effects on health outcomes; instead, it weakened the unfavorable association between concerns at baseline and functional well-being at follow-up. Our findings support both theoretical models, but in regard to different aspects of disclosure content.
Psychol Bull. 2006 Nov;132(6):823-65.
Disclosing information, thoughts, and feelings about personal and meaningful topics (experimental disclosure) is purported to have various health and psychological consequences (e.g., J. W. Pennebaker, 1993). Although the results of 2 small meta-analyses (P. G. Frisina, J. C. Borod, & S. J. Lepore, 2004; J. M. Smyth, 1998) suggest that experimental disclosure has a positive and significant effect, both used a fixed effects approach, limiting generalizability. Also, a plethora of studies on experimental disclosure have been completed that were not included in the previous analyses. One hundred forty-six randomized studies of experimental disclosure were collected and included in the present meta-analysis. Results of random effects analyses indicate that experimental disclosure is effective, with a positive and significant average r-effect size of .075. In addition, a number of moderators were identified.
To identify differential health benefits of written emotional disclosure (ED).
Pain-coping style and demographic characteristics were examined as potential moderators of ED treatment efficacy in a randomized controlled trial with female fibromyalgia patients.
Of three pain-coping styles, only patients classified as interpersonally distressed (ID) experienced significant treatment effects on psychological well-being, pain, and fatigue. Treatment effects on psychological well-being were also significantly greater for patients with a high level of education.
Patients with an ID-coping style and/or high education appear to benefit most from ED.