Written expression of traumatic experiences, an intervention found to have health benefits in rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and breast cancer, was tested in a randomized, controlled trial with female fibromyalgia patients. It was hypothesized that relative to controls, patients engaging in the writing intervention would experience improved status on psychological well-being and physical health variables.
Patients (N = 92) were randomized into a trauma writing group, a control writing group, or usual care control group. The two writing groups wrote in the laboratory for 20 minutes on 3 days at 1-week intervals. Psychological well-being, pain, and fatigue were the primary outcome variables. Assessments were made at pretreatment, posttreatment, 4-month follow-up, and 10-month follow-up.
The trauma writing group experienced significant reductions in pain (effect size [ES] = 0.49) and fatigue (ES = 0.62) and better psychological well-being (ES = 0.47) at the 4-month follow-up relative to the control groups. Benefits were not maintained at the 10-month follow-up.
Fibromyalgia patients experienced short-term benefits in psychological and health variables through emotional expression of personal traumatic experiences.
ED = written emotional disclosure;
RA = rheumatoid arthritis;
QOL = Quality of Life Scale;
STAI-S = state version, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory;
BDI = Beck Depression Inventory;
MOS = Medical Outcome Study;
CLINHAQ = Clinical Health Assessment Questionnaire;
FIQ = Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire;
VAS = visual analogue scale;
NW = neutral writing group;
UC = usual-care control group;
ANOVA = analysis of variance;
ES = effect size.