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A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Written Emotional Disclosure on the Health Outcomes of Clinical Populations

Frisina, Pasquale G. MA*; Borod, Joan C. PhD†; Lepore, Stephen J. PhD‡

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease:
Original Articles
Abstract

A meta-analysis was conducted to examine the effects of the written emotional disclosure paradigm on health outcomes of people with physical or psychiatric disorders. After nine studies were meta-analyzed, it was determined that expressive writing significantly improved health (d = .19; p < .05). However, this positive relationship (r = .10) was not moderated by any systemic variables because of the nonsignificant test of homogeneity (Qw = 5.27; p = .73). Nonetheless, a planned contrast illustrated that expressive writing is more effective on physical (d = .21; p = .01) than on psychological (d = .07; p = .17) health outcomes (Qb > 10.83; p < .001). One explanation for the small effect size (ES) results and the nonsignificant test of homogeneity may be the small and heterogeneous samples used in some of the studies within this research synthesis. Future research with expressive writing should be tested with randomized controlled trials to increase the likelihood of detecting a larger treatment effect.

Author Information

*Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College and the Graduate School, City University of New York, NY; †Department of Psychology, Queens College and the Graduate School, City University of New York, and Department of Neurology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY; and ‡Department of Health and Behavioral Studies, Columbia University, Teacher's College, and Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College and the Graduate School, City University of New York, NY.

Send reprint requests to Pasquale Frisina, Department of Psychology, 5315 James Hall, Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.