Writing down fears, emotions and the benefits of a cancer diagnosis may improve health outcomes for Asian-American breast cancer survivors, according to a study conducted by a researcher at the University of Houston (UH).
"The key to developing an expressive writing intervention is the writing instruction. Otherwise, writing is just like a journal recording facts and events. Writing a journal can be therapeutic, but oftentimes we don't get the empirical evidence to determine whether it's effective or not," said Qian Lu, assistant professor and director of the Culture and Health Research Center at UH.
"In my research study, I found long-term physical and psychological health benefits when research participants wrote about their deepest fears and the benefits of a breast cancer diagnosis," she said.
Lu and colleagues published a study titled, "A Pilot Study of Expressive Writing Intervention Among Chinese-Speaking Breast Cancer Survivors," in Health Psychology. The goal of her research is to reduce the psychological burden among minority patients particularly among breast cancer survivors.
"Cancer patients, like war veterans in Iraq, can experience post-traumatic stress symptoms. Many times when cancer patients get diagnosed, they face lots of emotional trauma. There's a sense of loss, depression, anxiety about going into treatment and how they are going to face the future," said Lu. "They have a lot of emotional events going on in their life."
In her research, Lu, found little attention paid to Asian-American breast cancer survivor's psychological needs. Previous studies largely focused on non-Hispanic white samples, and she found a need to research this understudied population. Some of the challenges she noted with this population were feeling stigmatized, shame associated with cancer, cultural beliefs of bearing the burden alone to avoid disrupting harmony, suppressing emotions, and a lack of trai
|Contact: Melissa Carroll|
University of Houston