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Anxiety Stress Coping. 2009 Oct;22(5):509-23. doi: 10.1080/10615800902785608.

The durability of beneficial health effects associated with expressive writing.

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National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare Systems, 150 S. Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130, USA.


This study examined the durability of benefits associated with expressive writing. Sixty-eight college undergraduates completed measures of physical and psychological health at the beginning of their first year and were then randomized to either an expressive writing or a control writing condition. Changes in physical health, psychological health (i.e., depression, stress, and anxiety), and academic performance were assessed two, four, and six months later. Findings indicated that participants assigned to the expressive writing condition reported less depression symptom severity at the two-month follow-up assessment relative to participants assigned to the control condition. However, these symptom reductions were not observed at any of the subsequent follow-up assessments. No significant changes were reported for physical health complaints, stress symptoms,anxiety symptoms, or academic performance. These findings suggest that,among first-year college students, expressive writing may provide some shortterm relief for certain symptoms.

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