JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Optimizing the perceived benefits and health outcomes of writing about traumatic life events

Matthew A Andersson, Colleen S Conley
Stress and Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress 2013, 29 (1): 40-9
22407959
Expressive writing, which involves disclosing one's deepest thoughts and feelings about a stressful life event by using a first-person perspective, has been linked to gains in health and well-being, though effect sizes range widely. Assuming a third-person perspective is a natural and effective way of coping with highly distressing events. Therefore, the current study examined whether a distanced, third-person approach to expressive writing might be more beneficial than a traditional, first-person intervention for high baseline levels of event-linked intrusive thinking. Randomly assigned participants wrote expressively about traumatic life events by using a first-person or third-person-singular perspective. Linguistic analyses showed that assuming a first-person perspective is linked to higher levels of in-text cognitive engagement, whereas a third-person perspective is linked to lower cognitive engagement. However, in a context of higher levels of intrusive thinking, third-person expressive writing, relative to a traditional first-person approach, yielded (1) greater perceived benefits and positive, long-lasting effects as well as (2) fewer days of activity restriction due to illness. Although more research is needed, these results suggest that third-person expressive writing may be an especially fitting technique for recovering from traumatic or highly stressful life events.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article

Discussion

You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read
22407959
×

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.

×

Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"