Gerontologist. 2007 Jun;47(3):296-306.
We examined whether written emotional disclosure reduces stress and improves health outcomes for family caregivers of physically frail and cognitively impaired older adults, as it has been shown to do for certain student and clinical populations.
DESIGN AND METHODS:
Primary caregivers of older adults attending a day program were randomly assigned to expressive-writing (n = 14), time-management (n = 13), or history-writing (n = 13) conditions. Participants wrote for 20 minutes on four occasions over a 2-week period, and they completed self-report measures of caregiver burden and health prior to the intervention, immediately afterward, and at 1-month follow-up.
Contrary to expectations, expressive-writing and history-writing participants performed similarly across outcomes. Only caregiver participants in the time-management condition experienced significant mental and physical health improvements after writing.
The results of this study add to a growing body of research demonstrating equivocal effects of expressive writing with clinical samples, and they suggest the potential benefit of written time management for stressed caregivers.