Abstract: Written emotional expression produces health benefits in fibromyalgia patients

Psychosom Med. 2005 Mar-Apr;67(2):326-34.

Broderick JE, Junghaenel DU, Schwartz JE.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Putnam Hall, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8790. Joan.Broderick@stonybrook.edu.

Objective: Written expression of traumatic experiences, an intervention found to have health benefits in rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and breast cancer, was tested in a randomized, controlled trial with female fibromyalgia patients. It was hypothesized that relative to controls, patients engaging in the writing intervention would experience improved status on psychological well-being and physical health variables.

Methods: Patients (N = 92) were randomized into a trauma writing group, a control writing group, or usual care control group. The two writing groups wrote in the laboratory for 20 minutes on 3 days at 1-week intervals. Psychological well-being, pain, and fatigue were the primary outcome variables. Assessments were made at pretreatment, posttreatment, 4-month follow-up, and 10-month follow-up.

Results: The trauma writing group experienced significant reductions in pain (effect size [ES] = 0.49) and fatigue (ES = 0.62) and better psychological well-being (ES = 0.47) at the 4-month follow-up relative to the control groups. Benefits were not maintained at the 10-month follow-up.

Conclusion: Fibromyalgia patients experienced short-term benefits in psychological and health variables through emotional expression of personal traumatic experiences.

PMID: 15784801 [PubMed – in process]

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