The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium. ~ Norbet Platt
The Write Treatment
The Journal Writing Study
Journal writing study gives credence to a physical-psychological connection of stress and illness. The randomized, controlled study was conducted at the State University of New York at Stony Brook between October 1996 and December 1997.
A group of 112 patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis participated in the study. Thirty nine asthma patients and 32 rheumatoid arthritis patients were instructed to write about the most stressful event in their lives.
Serving as a control group, 22 asthma patients and 19 rheumatoid arthritis patients were asked to write about their daily plans. The patients were asked to write for 20 minutes on 3 consecutive days. There were 107 participants who actually completed the task.
Following the journal writing assignment, for comparison to baseline, the journal writing study patients were re-examined at intervals of 2 weeks, 2 months, and 4 months.
Substantial improvement was demonstrated by 47.1 percent of the overall group after journal writing about stressful experiences they endured.
Journal writing study results specific to the rheumatoid arthritis group revealed a 28 percent reduction in overall disease activity for those journal writing about stress compared to no change in the control group. It was notable that the group of rheumatoid arthritis patients did not improve until the end of the 4 month study. The reason is unexplained.
Though many questions remain regarding the study, the data is considered "clinically relevant", certainly enough to suggest that psychological events impact medical events. Stress and stress relief are likely contributory to disease.
Journal writing which chronicles experiences of anxiety and disquietude can serve as a vehicle for the expression of negative emotion. Assuming a physical-psychological connection, the release of negative emotion has a positive influence on physical well-being.
Related Resources - Journal Writing - Rheumatoid Arthritis
Sources: JAMA, Effects Of Writing About Stressful Experiences On Symptom Reduction In Patients With Asthma Or Rheumatoid Arthritis, Abstract April 14, 1999; Study Shows Stress-Illness Link, Intelihealth, April 14, 1999