Disclosure of trauma and immune response to a hepatitis B vaccination program

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1995 Oct;63(5):787-92. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.63.5.787.


This study investigated whether emotional expression of traumatic experiences influenced the immune response to a hepatitis B vaccination program. Forty medical students who tested negative for hepatitis B antibodies were randomly assigned to write about personal traumatic events or control topics during 4 consecutive daily sessions. The day after completion of the writing, participants were given their first hepatitis B vaccination, with booster injections at 1 and 4 months after the writing. Blood was collected before each vaccination and at a 6-month follow-up. Compared with the control group, participants in the emotional expression group showed significantly higher antibody levels against hepatitis B at the 4 and 6-month follow-up periods. Other immune changes evident immediately after writing were significantly lower numbers of circulating T helper lymphocytes and basophils in the treatment group. The finding that a writing intervention influences immune response provides further support for a link between emotional disclosure and health.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Self Disclosure*