Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Writing Your Feelings: Good Medicine For Chronic Conditions

Date:
April 13, 1999
Source:
Center For The Advancement Of Health
Summary:
The simple act of writing down thoughts and feelings about particularly stressful events can help persons with chronic conditions improve their health, according to new research.

The simple act of writing down thoughts and feelings about particularly stressful events can help persons with chronic conditions improve their health, according to new research.

Asthma and arthritis patients who for several days wrote down their feelings about a stressful event in their lives showed significant improvement in their conditions during a four month study, but a comparison group of patients who wrote instead about their plans for the day improved only half as much, a team of scientists report in the April 15 Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Although it may be difficult to believe that a brief writing task can meaningfully impact health, this study replicates in a chronically ill sample what a burgeoning literature indicates in healthy individuals," say Joshua M. Smyth, PhD, and Arthur A. Stone, PhD, and their colleagues.

Previous studies showed that healthy individuals who perform similar writing tasks report fewer medical symptoms, greater well being, and less use of health care services, but until now, the impact of writing down thoughts and emotions had not been explored in people with chronic health conditions, such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, say Smyth, of the North Dakota State University Department of Psychology, and Stone, of the Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York at Stony Brook.

The investigators had 48 asthma patients and 35 arthritis patients write about the most stressful experience in their lives for 20 minutes on three consecutive days. A comparison group of 22 asthma patients and 21 arthritis patients wrote instead about their plans for the day. All the patients continued with their regular medical care and their condition was evaluated after two weeks, two months, and four months.

The investigators found that nearly half (47 percent) of the patients who wrote about their feelings showed clinical improvement after four months compared with 24 percent of those in the control group.

The asthma patients who wrote about stressful events had a 19 percent increase in lung function, on average, whereas those in the comparison group showed no change. Arthritis patients who wrote about stressful events showed a 28 percent average reduction in the severity of their disease, while those in the comparison group showed no change.

The investigators say it remains unclear why writing about one's feelings is effective medicine. In previous research, healthy persons who completed the task found it emotionally upsetting, but also showed positive changes in various physiological health measures, including heart rate, blood pressure, and immune function.

"It is possible that such affective or physiological responses can explain our results," the investigators say.

Alternatively, it is possible that the writing task changed the way people thought and remembered previous stressful events in their lives, and helped them cope with new stressful events.

The researchers note that it is not yet known whether the writing task remains effective beyond the four-month period studied and whether it can produce similar results in patients with other chronic conditions. They also caution that writing certainly should not replace qualified treatment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Center For The Advancement Of Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Center For The Advancement Of Health. "Writing Your Feelings: Good Medicine For Chronic Conditions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990413064135.htm>.
Center For The Advancement Of Health. (1999, April 13). Writing Your Feelings: Good Medicine For Chronic Conditions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990413064135.htm
Center For The Advancement Of Health. "Writing Your Feelings: Good Medicine For Chronic Conditions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990413064135.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden laid out new guidelines for health care workers when dealing with the deadly Ebola virus including new precautions when taking off personal protective equipment. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins