Background: Positive affect journaling (PAJ), an emotion-focused self-regulation intervention, has been associated with positive outcomes among medical populations. It may be adapted for Web-based dissemination to address a need for scalable, evidence-based psychosocial interventions among distressed patients with medical conditions.
Objective: This study aimed to examine the impact of a 12-week Web-based PAJ intervention on psychological distress and quality of life in general medical patients.
Methods: A total of 70 adults with various medical conditions and elevated anxiety symptoms were recruited from local clinics and randomly assigned to a Web-based PAJ intervention (n=35) or usual care (n=35). The intervention group completed 15-min Web-based PAJ sessions on 3 days each week for 12 weeks. At baseline and the end of months 1 through 3, surveys of psychological, interpersonal, and physical well-being were completed.
Results: Patients evidenced moderate sustained adherence to Web-based intervention. PAJ was associated with decreased mental distress and increased well-being relative to baseline. PAJ was also associated with less depressive symptoms and anxiety after 1 month and greater resilience after the first and second month, relative to usual care.
Conclusions: Web-based PAJ may serve as an effective intervention for mitigating mental distress, increasing well-being, and enhancing physical functioning among medical populations. PAJ may be integrated into routine medical care to improve quality of life.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01873599; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01873599 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/73ZGFzD2Z).
Keywords: adult; anxiety; depression; emotions; expressed emotion; internet; stress, psychological/physiopathology; surveys and questionnaires; treatment outcome; writing.
©Joshua M Smyth, Jillian A Johnson, Brandon J Auer, Erik Lehman, Giampaolo Talamo, Christopher N Sciamanna. Originally published in JMIR Mental Health (http://mental.jmir.org), 10.12.2018.