Published in final edited form as:
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.
Omega (Westport). 2007-2008;56(4):359-67.
In a community-based bereavement writing group, patterns of metaphor emerged and helped the group members identify and deal with particularly challenging aspects of death and grief, including taboo subjects such as abuse and suicide. The metaphors show how a bereavement writing group functioned to address the needs of people coping with different kinds of grief effectively and efficiently. Analysis of the specific metaphors suggests why figurative language enabled the group to bond quickly and strongly, delve into the complex emotions death elicits, and integrate experiences of loss and grief safely and productively. The patterns of metaphors the group produced in their writing about death and grief are discussed in terms of bereavement processes, and the topics the group used to elicit the figures of speech are presented for further refinement and use.
J Lesbian Stud. 2008;12(4):501-17. doi: 10.1080/10894160802278663.
The purpose of the current study was to examine the content of the expressive writing journals of female sexual minorities. In addition, the relationship between the content of expressive writing journals and mood and perceived stress measured two months later was examined. Journal content was also examined as a function of demographic characteristics. Thirty-nine participants each wrote a total of six journal entries about significant stressful or traumatic events or recurring problems they have experienced as lesbians. Topics that participants wrote about were differentness, leading a double life, coming out, discrimination, rejection, fears of rejection and safety, self-acceptance, and same- and opposite-sex intimate experiences. Themes of feeling different, negative coming out experiences, and negative same-sex intimate experiences were associated with more psychological distress two months after the expressive writing exercise. Occupational level was associated with themes related to leading a double life and negative same-sex and coming out experiences. These results are considered in light of the unique minority stressors experienced by lesbians as well as the difficulties inherent in lesbians having ties to both lesbian and heterosexual cultures.
Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):43-7. doi: 10.1348/135910707X251225.
Eighty-nine Korean-English and Spanish-English bilingual students expressively wrote in their native language, English, or both languages on four occasions or were assigned to a non-writing control group. In addition to self-reports of adjustment, participants wore a recording device that sampled their natural language at 30-second intervals every 12.5 min for 2 days both prior to and 1 month after the experiment. Overall, those assigned to the language switching condition showed the greatest improvements in adjustment and social engagement.
Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):27-30. doi: 10.1348/135910707X250929.
Corter AL1, Petrie KJ.
Manipulations of the setting and instructions were tested for effects on language use and reported health following expressive writing (EW).
Participants (N=76) wrote in one of three conditions that differed by setting and the delivery of writing instructions.
The results showed that altering the context for EW influences participants’ language use and their perceptions of the experience. There was no effect of conditions on self-reported health.
Future research should attend to the ways in which manipulations of EW context affect proposed mediators such as language, as well as outcomes of EW.
Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):53-6. doi: 10.1348/135910707X251180.
Swanbon T1, Boyce L, Greenberg MA.
This experimental study examined expressive writing (EW) in a community sample with social constraints on self-expression. Gay men (N=62) were assigned randomly to describe gay-related thoughts and feelings (EW) or to write objectively (CTRL). Self-reported symptoms and physician visits were assessed at baseline and 1- and 2-month follow-ups.
Significant GroupxTime interaction for somatic symptoms indicated buffering effect of EW. EW reduced gay-related avoidance, relative to CTRL. Avoidance and symptom changes were significantly, positively associated.
Consistent with inhibition theory, EW reduces chronic avoidance and buffers stress-related physical symptoms in stigmatized groups.
Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):15-21. doi: 10.1348/135910707X251171.
Chung CK1, Pennebaker JW.
In a test to determine whether a brief version of the expressive writing (EW) method was viable, 106 college students participated in an experiment dealing with the study of life transitions.
Individuals were randomly assigned to write for 15 minutes on three occasions: either three times separated by 10-min break (1-hour condition), 35-min break (3-hour condition), or 24-hour break (3-day condition).
Participants were randomly assigned to write about their thoughts and feelings about the transitions (N=80), or to describe daily behaviours surrounding the transitions in a non-emotional way (N=26).
The three emotional writing conditions did not vary in terms of their engagement with writing, their emotional reactions, short- or long-term reactions to the intervention. Compared to controls, those in the experimental conditions evidenced fewer symptom reports 9 months after writing.
The findings suggest that a brief 1-hour EW is more emotionally demanding, but that it has comparable effects on physical symptoms as the traditional 3-day method.
Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):31-4. doi: 10.1348/135910707X251234.
Fernández I1, Páez D.
This study examined the effects of expressive narrative writing in 607 participants. Compared with a control group, the participants randomly assigned to write about their feelings and thoughts after the Madrid train attack on M11 report less negative emotions related to the recall of the collective trauma at a 2-month follow-up after the attacks. However, no effects were found on positive affect, probably because the study had only one writing session of brief duration. Stronger feelings of joy, use of positive words, and low use of negative words in the narratives predicted low emotional activation at follow-up.
J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2008 Dec;39(4):558-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2007.11.008. Epub 2008 Feb 6.
Guastella AJ1, Dadds MR.
We report on a controlled trial of three structured writing paradigms that engage the writer with cognitive-behavioural emotion-processes: exposure, devaluation, and benefit-finding. University students (N=198) wrote once a week for three weeks about their most upsetting experience. The long-term effects of these structured writing procedures were compared to an unstructured emotion writing condition and control. Outcomes indicated that exposure writing sped the reduction of intrusive and avoidant symptoms, while benefit-finding writing increased reports of positive growth. Results suggest the use of these paradigms to study emotion-processing mechanisms and, potentially, in practice to enhance coping in process-specific ways.