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 September 17, 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 September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) 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:
from the past week

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