The durability of beneficial health effects associated with expressive writing

Denise M. Sloan, Brian A. Feinstein, Brian P. Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study examined the durability of benefits associated with expressive writing. Sixty-eight college undergraduates completed measures of physical and psychological health at the beginning of their first year and were then randomized to either an expressive writing or a control writing condition. Changes in physical health, psychological health (i.e., depression, stress, and anxiety), and academic performance were assessed two, four, and six months later. Findings indicated that participants assigned to the expressive writing condition reported less depression symptom severity at the two-month follow-up assessment relative to participants assigned to the control condition. However, these symptom reductions were not observed at any of the subsequent follow-up assessments. No significant changes were reported for physical health complaints, stress symptoms, anxiety symptoms, or academic performance. These findings suggest that, among first-year college students, expressive writing may provide some short-term relief for certain symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-523
Number of pages15
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Expressive writing
  • Physical health
  • Stress
  • Written disclosure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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