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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1992 Jul;63(1):75-84.

Emotional disclosure about traumas and its relation to health: effects of previous disclosure and trauma severity.

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  • 1State University of New York, Stony Brook.

Erratum in

  • J Pers Soc Psychol 1992 Aug;63(2):preceding 181.


This study sought to replicate previous findings that disclosing traumas improves physical health and to compare the effects of revealing previously disclosed versus undisclosed traumas. According to inhibition theory, reporting about undisclosed traumas should produce greater health benefits. Sixty healthy undergraduates wrote about undisclosed traumas, previously disclosed traumas, or trivial events. Contrary to expectations, there were no significant between-groups differences on longer term health utilization and physical symptom measures. However, Ss who disclosed more severe traumas reported fewer physical symptoms in the months following the study, compared with low-severity trauma Ss, and tended to report fewer symptoms than control Ss. Results suggest that health benefits occur when severe traumas are disclosed, regardless of whether previous disclosure has occurred.

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