Published in final edited form as:
To identify differential health benefits of written emotional disclosure (ED).
Pain-coping style and demographic characteristics were examined as potential moderators of ED treatment efficacy in a randomized controlled trial with female fibromyalgia patients.
Of three pain-coping styles, only patients classified as interpersonally distressed (ID) experienced significant treatment effects on psychological well-being, pain, and fatigue. Treatment effects on psychological well-being were also significantly greater for patients with a high level of education.
Patients with an ID-coping style and/or high education appear to benefit most from ED.
J Soc Clin Psychol. 2010 May 1;26(3):362-384.
Radcliffe AM1, Lumley MA, Kendall J, Stevenson JK, Beltran J.
Studies suggest that written emotional disclosure can improve health. Unknown, however, is whether the presence or absence of an audience for one’s disclosure matters, and whether time management control writing has any effects. Undergraduates (N = 165) with unresolved stress were randomized to 1 of 3 groups that wrote for 4 sessions: shared written disclosure (submitted to researchers), private written disclosure (not submitted), or time management control writing; or to a fourth group (no-writing control). At 3-month follow-up, the two control groups were equivalent on outcomes. Both shared and private disclosure resulted in less cognitive intrusion and avoidance than the combined control groups. Yet, shared disclosure reduced depression and interpersonal sensitivity more than either private disclosure or the control groups, and only shared disclosure reduced physical symptoms. Although truly private writing improves cognitive stress effects, shared writing has broader benefits, suggesting that social disclosure for one’s writing matters.
Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2003 Oct;29(10):1236-44.
This study examined the impact of disclosing traumas on resilient self-perceptions and psychological distress. Participants (N = 50) wrote about a traumatic life event or their plans for the next day and completed measures of resilience and distress before disclosing (pretest) and 3 months later (posttest). Results revealed that trauma participants increased in positive self-perceptions (mastery, personal growth, self-acceptance) and decreased in distress (depression, interpersonal sensitivity, anxiety, somatization) from pretest to posttest. Control participants showed no changes except for autonomy, on which they decreased. Results suggest that in addition to reducing psychological distress, disclosing traumas change self-perception, resulting in a more resilient self-concept.