This thesis investigated whether an expressive writing intervention
known as emotional disclosure improved health at follow up.
Emotional disclosure is a technique whereby participants write on 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 (RCTs) found
no significant effects on a wide variety of health related
outcomes. A high quality RCT was undertaken where one hundred
healthy 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. There was no difference found in
almost all health-related measures such as self-reported 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.
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