Betrayal trauma: relationship to physical health, psychological distress, and a written disclosure intervention.

J Trauma Dissociation. 2005;6(3):83-104.

Freyd JJ1, Klest B, Allard CB.

In the current study we sought, first, to distinguish associations with health arising from types of trauma as indicated by betrayal trauma theory (Freyd, 1996, 2001), and, second, to investigate the impact of disclosing a trauma history in survey form and/or writing essays about betrayal traumas. We recruited 99 community adults reporting at least 12 months of chronic medical illness or pain, 80 of whom completed all four sessions of this six-month longitudinal intervention study. Participants were randomly assigned to write about betrayal traumas or neutral events, and they were randomly assigned to complete an extensive trauma survey or a long personality inventory, producing four groups of participants. All 99 participants were assessed at their initial visit for trauma history using the Brief Betrayal Trauma Survey (BBTS) and physical and mental symptoms. The BBTS assesses exposure to both traumas high in betrayal (such as abuse by a close other) and traumas low in betrayal but high in life-threat (such as an automobile accident). Exposure to traumas with high betrayal was significantly correlated with number of physical illness, anxiety, dissociation, and depression symptoms. Amount of exposure to other types of traumas (low betrayal traumas) did not predict symptoms over and above exposure to betrayal trauma. While neither the survey manipulation nor the writing intervention led to main effects on change in symptoms over time, there were interactions between betrayal trauma history and condition such that participants with many betrayal traumas fared better in the control conditions while participants with fewer betrayal traumas had better outcomes if they were placed in the trauma writing and/or survey conditions. We discuss ongoing and future research aimed at evaluating the role of increased structure in writing assignments as beneficial for those with severe histories of betrayal trauma.

Journaling as reinforcement for the resourcefulness training intervention in mothers of technology-dependent children.

Appl Nurs Res. 2016 Nov;32:269-274. doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2016.08.005. Epub 2016 Aug 21.

Toly VB1, Blanchette JE2, Musil CM3, Zauszniewski JA4.

Resourcefulness, a set of cognitive and behavioral skills used to attain, maintain, or regain health, is a factor related to depressive symptoms in mothers of children with chronic conditions and complex care needs who are dependent on medical technology such as mechanical ventilation or feeding tubes. The purpose of this secondary analysis of a randomized, controlled pilot intervention study was to determine the feasibility, acceptability and fidelity of daily journal writing as a method of reinforcement of resourcefulness training (RT) that teaches the use of social and personal resourcefulness skills. Participants returned their journals to the study office at the end of the four-week journaling exercise. Content analysis from exit interviews and journals supported the feasibility, acceptability and fidelity of daily journaling for reinforcement of RT in this population. Journal writing can be used by pediatric nurses to reinforce and promote resourcefulness skill use in parents of technology-dependent children.

Writing for Health: Rationale and Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial of Internet-Based Benefit-Finding Writing for Adults With Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.

JMIR Res Protoc. 2017 Mar 14;6(3):e42. doi: 10.2196/resprot.7151.

Crawford J1,2, Wilhelm K1,2,3, Robins L1,3, Proudfoot J2,4.

Diabetes mellitus is Australia’s fastest growing chronic disease, and has high comorbidity with depression. Both subthreshold depression and diabetes distress are common amongst people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and are associated with poorer diabetes self-care. A need exists for low-intensity self-help interventions for large numbers of people with diabetes and diabetes distress or subthreshold depression, as part of a stepped-care approach to meeting the psychological needs of people with diabetes. Benefit-finding writing is a very brief intervention that involves writing about any positive thoughts and feelings about a stressful experience, such as an illness. Benefit-finding writing has been associated with increases in positive affect and positive growth, and has demonstrated promising results in trials amongst other clinical populations. However, benefit-finding writing has not yet been examined in people with diabetes.


The aim of this randomized controlled trial (RCT) is to evaluate the efficacy of an Internet-based benefit-finding writing (iBFW) intervention for adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes (compared to a control writing condition) for reducing diabetes distress and increasing benefit-finding in diabetes, and also improving a range of secondary outcomes.


A two-arm RCT will be conducted, using the online program Writing for Health. Adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes living in Australia will be recruited using diabetes-related publications and websites, and through advertisements in diabetes services and general practitioners’ offices. Potential participants will be referred to the study-specific website for participant information and screening. All data will be collected online. Participants will be randomized to either iBFW about diabetes, or a control writing condition of writing about use-of-time. Both conditions involve three daily sessions (once per day for three consecutive days) of 15-minute online writing exercises. Outcome measures will be administered online at baseline, one-month, and three-month follow-ups.


This trial is currently underway. The primary outcomes will be diabetes distress and benefit-finding in diabetes. Secondary outcomes will be depression, anxiety, diabetes self-care, perceived health, and health care utilization. We aim to recruit 104 participants. All stages of the study will be conducted online using the Writing for Health program. Group differences will be analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis using mixed models repeated measures. Linguistic analyses of the writing exercise scripts, and examinations of the immediate emotional responses to the writing exercises, will also be undertaken.


This RCT will be the first study to examine iBFW for adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If iBFW is found to be efficacious in reducing diabetes distress and improving diabetes self-care and other outcomes, iBFW may offer the potential to be a low-cost, easily accessible self-help intervention to improve the wellbeing of adults with diabetes.


Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12615000241538).


Does therapeutic writing help people with long-term conditions? Systematic review, realist synthesis and economic considerations.

Health Technol Assess. 2016 Apr;20(27):vii-xxxvii, 1-367. doi: 10.3310/hta20270.

Nyssen OP1, Taylor SJ2, Wong G3, Steed E2, Bourke L4, Lord J5, Ross CA6, Hayman S7, Field V8, Higgins A9, Greenhalgh T3, Meads C10.


Writing therapy to improve physical or mental health can take many forms. The most researched model of therapeutic writing (TW) is unfacilitated, individual expressive writing (written emotional disclosure). Facilitated writing activities are less widely researched.


Databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts, Allied and Complementary Medicine Database and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, were searched from inception to March 2013 (updated January 2015).


Four TW practitioners provided expert advice. Study procedures were conducted by one reviewer and checked by a second. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomised comparative studies were included. Quality was appraised using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool. Unfacilitated and facilitated TW studies were analysed separately under International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision chapter headings. Meta-analyses were performed where possible using RevMan version 5.2.6 (RevMan 2012, The Cochrane Collaboration, The Nordic Cochrane Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark). Costs were estimated from a UK NHS perspective and three cost-consequence case studies were prepared. Realist synthesis followed Realist and Meta-narrative Evidence Synthesis: Evolving Standards guidelines.


To review the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of TW for people with long-term conditions (LTCs) compared with no writing, or other controls, reporting any relevant clinical outcomes. To conduct a realist synthesis to understand how TW might work, and for whom.


From 14,658 unique citations, 284 full-text papers were reviewed and 64 studies (59 RCTs) were included in the final effectiveness reviews. Five studies examined facilitated TW; these were extremely heterogeneous with unclear or high risk of bias but suggested that facilitated TW interventions may be beneficial in individual LTCs. Unfacilitated expressive writing was examined in 59 studies of variable or unreported quality. Overall, there was very little or no evidence of any benefit reported in the following conditions (number of studies): human immunodeficiency virus (six); breast cancer (eight); gynaecological and genitourinary cancers (five); mental health (five); asthma (four); psoriasis (three); and chronic pain (four). In inflammatory arthropathies (six) there was a reduction in disease severity [n = 191, standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.61, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.96 to -0.26] in the short term on meta-analysis of four studies. For all other LTCs there were either no data, or sparse data with no or inconsistent, evidence of benefit. Meta-analyses conducted across all of the LTCs provided no evidence that unfacilitated emotional writing had any effect on depression at short- (n = 1563, SMD -0.06, 95% CI -0.29 to 0.17, substantial heterogeneity) or long-term (n = 778, SMD -0.04 95% CI -0.18 to 0.10, little heterogeneity) follow-up, or on anxiety, physiological or biomarker-based outcomes. One study reported costs, no studies reported cost-effectiveness and 12 studies reported resource use; and meta-analysis suggested reduced medication use but no impact on health centre visits. Estimated costs of intervention were low, but there was insufficient evidence to judge cost-effectiveness. Realist synthesis findings suggested that facilitated TW is a complex intervention and group interaction contributes to the perception of benefit. It was unclear from the available data who might benefit most from facilitated TW.


Difficulties with developing realist synthesis programme theory meant that mechanisms operating during TW remain obscure.


Overall, there is little evidence to support the therapeutic effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of unfacilitated expressive writing interventions in people with LTCs. Further research focused on facilitated TW in people with LTCs could be informative.


This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42012003343.


The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme.