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Title: The impact of the emotional disclosure intervention on physical and psychological health
Author: Meads, C.
ISNI:       0000 0001 2445 4638
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis investigated whether an expressive writing intervention known as emotional disclosure improved health related variables at follow up. Emotional disclosure is a technique whereby participants write or talk in private about a traumatic, stressful or upsetting event, usually from their past, for a short time such as one hour in total. A systematic review of 61 emotional disclosure randomised controlled trials found no significant effects of the intervention on a wide variety of health related outcomes including objectively measured disease status and health seeking behaviour such as health centre or GP visits. It also had little effect on psychological outcomes such as anxiety, depression and the impact of events. Many outcomes were not fully reported and some showed conflicting results but no trials showed worse objectively measured health related variables following the intervention. A high quality randomised controlled trial was undertaken where one hundred healthy University of Birmingham students were randomised to standard emotional disclosure writing or neutral writing control and all followed up at 3 months for illnesses, health centre visits and questionnaire measures of general psychological health and self-esteem. There was no difference found in almost all health-related measures except that the control group had more health visits at baseline which was not mirrored at follow up, suggesting that either expressive writing may have resulted in more health visits for the intervention group following writing or that the baseline difference was a chance finding. Emotional disclosure had no effect on selfreported illnesses, general psychological health and self-esteem. There is no clear evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of emotional disclosure, but no clear evidence of harm either. The evidence suggests that this intervention has very little effect, contrary to the impression given in the academic literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available