The Effects of Expressive Writing on Adjustment to HIV

Inna D. Rivkin; Julie Gustafson; Ilene Weingarten; Dorothy Chin

DISCLOSURES

AIDS and Behavior. 2006;10(1):13-26.

Previous research suggests that writing about stressful experiences results in better health and psychological well-being. In the present study, a multi-ethnic sample of 79 HIV-positive women and men participated in a structured interview, and wrote about either their deepest thoughts and feelings about living with HIV (expressive writing) or their activities in the last 24 hr (control). Sixty-two participants returned for the 2-month follow-up and 50 returned for the 6-month follow-up interview. Oral fluid samples of beta2-microglobulin were taken at the baseline and follow-up assessments to examine the immunological effects of writing. No effects of writing condition were found, but expressive writing participants who included increasing insight/causation and social words in their writing had better immune function and reported more positive changes at follow-up. Results suggest that cognitive processing and changes in social interactions may be critical to the benefits of writing.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/536484

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Emotional disclosure through writing or speaking modulates latent Epstein-Barr virus antibody titers.

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1994 Feb;62(1):130-40.

Esterling BA1, Antoni MH, Fletcher MA, Margulies S, Schneiderman N.

Healthy Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) seropositive undergraduates (N = 57) completed a personality inventory, provided blood samples, and were randomly assigned to write or talk about stressful events, or to write about trivial events, during three weekly 20-min sessions, after which they provided a final blood sample. Individuals assigned to the verbal/stressful condition had significantly lower EBV antibody titers (suggesting better cellular immune control over the latent virus) after the intervention than those in the written/stressful group, who had significantly lower values than those in the written/trivial control group. Subjects assigned to the written/stressful condition expressed more negative emotional words than the verbal/stressful and control groups and more positive emotional words than the verbal/stressful group at each time point. The verbal/stressful group expressed more negative emotional words compared with the control group at baseline. Content analysis indicated that the verbal/stressful group achieved the greatest improvements in cognitive change, self-esteem, and adaptive coping strategies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8034815

Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing

Karen A. Baikie, Kay Wilhelm

Medical conditions that might benefit from expressive writing programmes

  • Lung functioning in asthma

  • Disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis

  • Pain and physical health in cancer

  • Immune response in HIV infection

  • Hospitalisations for cystic fibrosis

  • Pain intensity in women with chronic pelvic pain

  • Sleep-onset latency in poor sleepers

  • Post-operative course

http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338