Expressive writing reduces avoidance and somatic complaints in a community sample with constraints on expression.

Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):53-6. doi: 10.1348/135910707X251180.

Swanbon T1, Boyce L, Greenberg MA.

This experimental study examined expressive writing (EW) in a community sample with social constraints on self-expression. Gay men (N=62) were assigned randomly to describe gay-related thoughts and feelings (EW) or to write objectively (CTRL). Self-reported symptoms and physician visits were assessed at baseline and 1- and 2-month follow-ups.

RESULTS:

Significant GroupxTime interaction for somatic symptoms indicated buffering effect of EW. EW reduced gay-related avoidance, relative to CTRL. Avoidance and symptom changes were significantly, positively associated.

CONCLUSIONS:

Consistent with inhibition theory, EW reduces chronic avoidance and buffers stress-related physical symptoms in stigmatized groups.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18230232

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