Written emotional expression: effect sizes, outcome types, and moderating variables

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1998 Feb;66(1):174-84. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.66.1.174.


A research synthesis was conducted to examine the relationship between a written emotional expression task and subsequent health. This writing task was found to lead to significantly improved health outcomes in healthy participants. Health was enhanced in 4 outcome types--reported physical health, psychological well-being, physiological functioning, and general functioning--but health behaviors were not influenced. Writing also increased immediate (pre- to postwriting) distress, which was unrelated to health outcomes. The relation between written emotional expression and health was moderated by a number of variables, including the use of college students as participants, gender, duration of the manipulation, publication status of the study, and specific writing content instructions.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Mental Health*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Writing*