J Pediatr Psychol. 2006 Jul;31(6):557-68. Epub 2005 Jul 13.
To test the effects of written emotional disclosure on the health of adolescents with asthma and to examine how language in disclosures predicts outcomes.
We randomized 50 adolescents with asthma to write for 3 days at home about stressful events (disclosure) or control topics. At baseline and 2 months after writing, we assessed symptoms, affect, disability, internalizing behavior problems, and lung function; parents independently rated internalizing behavior and disability.
Compared with control writing, disclosure writing led to improved positive affect and internalizing problems. Disclosure also decreased asthma symptoms and functional disability among adolescents with baseline elevations of these difficulties. Lung function was not changed. Disclosures with more negative emotion, insight, and causal words–and increased causal or insight words over days–predicted improved health.
Written emotional disclosure improves emotional and behavioral functioning among adolescents with asthma, particularly those whose writings suggest emotional processing and cognitive restructuring.