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Expressive writing appears to change thoughts and feelings about cancer
Date:2/22/2008

organ said. Thoughts and feelings, or the cognitive processing and emotions related to cancer, are key writing elements associated with health benefits, according to previous studies. Writing about only the facts has shown no benefit.

The post-survey indicated that 49 percent of participants who completed the writing exercise reported that writing changed their thoughts about their illness, while 35 percent reported writing changed they way they felt about their illness. At the three week follow-up, 54 percent of those completing all parts of the study reported writing changed their thoughts and 38 percent reported writing changed their feelings about their illness. Two factors -- younger age, and less time since diagnosis, were associated with more change in thoughts and feelings.

In addition to the quantitative data highlighting participants responses that the writing changed the way they thought about their cancer experience, we were interested in whether participants indicated in their writing that cancer brought about meaningful changes in their lives, Morgan said.

To analyze the impact of the writing exercise on patients, the researchers conducted initial content analyses of the compositions, examining each text for themes, words, and phrases indicative of the transformative nature of the cancer experience. Of the 63 texts, 60 contained evidence of transformation brought about by the cancer experience. Many of the changes expressed in the writing were positive and related to feelings about family, spirituality, work, and the future. As one patient wrote, Dont get me wrong, cancer isnt a gift, it just showed me what the gifts in my life are.

When people used a greater number of positive emotion words in their writing, they also reported more change in how the writing affected their thoughts and feelings about the illness. Greater reports of change in thoughts were significantly related to reports of better physical quality
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Contact: Karen Mallet
mallet.karen@gmail.com
414-312-7085
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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