Effect of Short Term Expressive Writing on Stress Reaction

Effect of Short Term Expressive Writing on Stress Reaction
Author(s): CHAI Ming-li, YU Hui-hui, LIU Yuan, LU Qian, PAN Fang, School of Medicine, Shandong University, Department of Psychology, University of Houston
Pages: 1128-1132
Year: 2014 Issue:  6
Journal: Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology
Keyword:  StressExpressive writingCortisolPosttraumatic growthPsychological intervention;
Abstract: Objective: To examine the effect of short term expression writing on stress response in laboratory condition.Methods: 64 4th grade clinical medical students were randomly divided into intervention group and control group. Stress responses were induced by videoes doctor-patient conflicts. After that, state anxiety, negative emotion(such as anger, anxiety, depression and fear), salivary cortisol and posttraumatic growth were assessed. 15 minutes expressive writings included feeling and ideas, express emotion and search for resources and support about stress event was used as the intervention method in writing group for 3 times. The subjects of control group took uninvolved writing. Results: The conflict video induced obvious stress response of subjects, the levels of state anxiety, anger, anxiety, depression and fear scores after video show were significantly higher than that at the baseline in both groups(P<0.01). Both expressive and uninvolved writing significantly decreased the levels of state anxiety, anger, anxiety and fear(P<0.01), but had no effects on depression scores(P>0.05). Compared with control group, expressive writing group had lower levels of anxiety and anger(P<0.01; P<0.05). Expressive writing had no significant effect on salivary cortisol level and posttraumatic growth(P>0.05). Trait anxiety had positive correlation with state anxiety, anxiety, depression and fear(P<0.001) just after stress-induction, and had positive correlation with state anxiety and depression after intervention(P<0.001). Gender(female) had positive association with state anxiety, depression and fear after stress(P<0.001; P<0.005). Conclusion: Short term expressive writing significantly can decrease stress reactions effciently.

An emotional processing writing intervention and heart rate variability: the role of emotional approach


Cognition and Emotion

Volume 31, 2017 – Issue 5

Pages 988-994


Expressing and understanding one’s own emotional responses to negative events, particularly those that challenge the attainment of important life goals, is thought to confer physiological benefit. Individual preferences and/or abilities in approaching emotions might condition the efficacy of interventions designed to encourage written emotional processing (EP). This study examines the physiological impact (as indexed by heart rate variability (HRV)) of an emotional processing writing (EPW) task as well as the moderating influence of a dispositional preference for coping through emotional approach (EP and emotional expression (EE)), in response to a laboratory stress task designed to challenge an important life goal. Participants (n = 98) were randomly assigned to either EPW or fact control writing (FCW) following the stress task. Regression analyses revealed a significant dispositional EP by condition interaction, such that high EP participants in the EPW condition demonstrated higher HRV after writing compared to low EP participants. No significant main effects of condition or EE coping were observed. These findings suggest that EPW interventions may be best suited for those with preference or ability to process emotions related to a stressor or might require adaptation for those who less often cope through emotional approach.