The effects of guided written disclosure on psychological symptoms among parents of children with cancer.

J Fam Nurs. 2007 Aug;13(3):370-84.

Duncan E1, Gidron Y, Rabin E, Gouchberg L, Moser AM, Kapelushnik J.

This study examines whether structured writing about receiving a diagnosis and treatment for pediatric cancer reduces distress among highly distressed parents of children with cancer (PCWC). Eight PCWC completed measures of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and depressive symptoms at two baselines, and again after writing, with 1-month gaps between assessments. Using a guided disclosure protocol (GDP), parents were asked to write about receiving the diagnosis first in a chronological manner, then to explicitly label their emotions at the time of diagnosis and explain the impact of the child’s illness on their life. Finally, they were asked to reflect on current feelings, future coping ability, and personal growth. Although symptoms of distress did not change between baselines, significant reductions were found in PTSS from the first baseline to postwriting, but not in depression. This preliminary study suggests that the GDP may reduce PTSS in distressed PCWC.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17641114

Sustained pain reduction through affective self-awareness in fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial.

J Gen Intern Med. 2010 Oct;25(10):1064-70. doi: 10.1007/s11606-010-1418-6. Epub 2010 Jun 8.

Hsu MC1, Schubiner H, Lumley MA, Stracks JS, Clauw DJ, Williams DA.

Affect and how it is regulated plays a role in pain perception, maintenance of pain, and its resolution. This randomized, controlled trial evaluated an innovative affective self-awareness (ASA) intervention, which was designed to reduce pain and improve functioning in individuals with fibromyalgia.

PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS:

Forty-five women with fibromyalgia were randomized to a manualized ASA intervention (n = 24) or wait-list control (n = 21). The intervention began with a one-time physician consultation, followed by 3 weekly, 2-h group sessions based upon a mind-body model of pain. Sessions focused on structured written emotional disclosure and emotional awareness exercises. Outcomes in both conditions were measured by a blinded assessor at baseline, post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up.

MEASURES:

The primary outcome was pain severity (Brief Pain Inventory); secondary outcomes included tender-point threshold and physical function (SF-36 Physical Component Summary). Intent-to-treat analyses compared groups on outcomes using analysis of covariance and on the proportion of patients achieving ≥ 30% and ≥ 50% pain reduction at 6 months.

RESULTS:

Adjusting for baseline scores, the intervention group had significantly lower pain severity (p < 0.001), higher self-reported physical function (p < 0.001), and higher tender-point threshold (p = 0.02) at 6 months compared to the control group. From baseline to 6 months, 45.8% of the ASA intervention group had ≥ 30% reduction in pain severity, compared to none of the controls (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

The affective self-awareness intervention improved pain, tenderness, and self-reported physical function for at least 6 months in women with fibromyalgia compared to wait-list control. This study suggests the value of interventions targeting emotional processes in fibromyalgia, although further studies should evaluate the efficacy of this intervention relative to active controls.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2955480/

Targeting Interventions: Moderators of the Effects of Expressive Writing and Assertiveness Training on the Adjustment of International University Students.

Int J Adv Couns. 2011 Jun 1;33(2):101-112.

Hijazi AM1, Tavakoli S, Slavin-Spenny OM, Lumley MA.

Acculturative stress is a common experience for international students and is associated with psychological and physical problems. In a previous study, the authors reported that two stress reduction interventions-expressive writing (EW) and assertiveness training (AT)-had limited overall benefits among international students at an American University. The current analyses of data from that study investigated whether individual differences moderated the effects of EW and AT. Results indicate that greater acculturative stress at baseline predicted greater improvement from both interventions, compared with control. Women benefited more from AT than EW, except that EW improved women’s physical symptoms. Men benefited more from EW than AT. Students with limited emotional awareness and expression tended to benefit from both interventions, relative to control. Finally, nation of origin cultural differences generally did not predict outcomes. It is concluded that the benefits of EW and AT and can be enhanced by targeting these interventions to specific subgroups of international students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21660220