Jennifer E. Lewis
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Effects of Writing Therapy across PTSD and Chronic
Dr. C. Richard Spates, Chair
Dr. Galen Alessi
Dr. Amy Naugle
Dr. Helle Augustesen
8, 2003 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
3719 Wood Hall
Research supports the effectiveness of writing therapy
in reducing physical health problems and increasing positive feelings
(Pennebaker & Beall, 1986). More recently, research indicates that
writing about traumatic experiences is as effective as EMDR in reducing
symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Largo-Marsh & Spates,
1997). The current study assessed the treatment efficacy of writing
therapy for individuals with varying degrees of stress related symptoms.
Specifically this study examined writing treatment for PTSD and work
related chronic stress or "burnout".
The study utilized a pretest posttest comparison group design. Repeated
measurements on primary dependent variables were collected as pretest
and posttest as well as at one and two month follow-ups.
Assessment instruments included the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI),
the Clinician Administered PTSD scale for DSM-IV (CAPS-DX), the State-Trait
Anxiety Inventory (STAI-State), Subjective Units of Distress rating
(SUDs), the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), the Coping Resources
Inventory (CRI), and the Health Care Visits Questionnaire.
Subjects were assigned to participant groups based upon their scores
on the CAPS-DX and MBI. Treatment consisted of four weekly sessions,
each 30 minutes in duration. The structured writing treatment was targeted
at the traumatic event or stressful work situation the participant identified
as most presently distressing. A total of 16 participants completed
the study through two-month follow up with eight participants in each
Results of this study indicated that participants in the Burnout condition
showed significant decreases in symptom reports of depression as measured
by the BDI-II. These gains were maintained through two-month follow-up.
Participants in the PTSD group showed no significant improvement on
any dependent measures. However, moderate to large effects sizes were
found for those analyses suggesting that an increased sample size may
have resulted in the detection of significant improvements in symptom
reports across all dependent measures for both conditions.
The main limitation of this study was the small sample size. The study
suffered from both difficulties recruiting participants as well as attrition.
Recommendations for future research in this area include monetary incentive
for participation. This research is best viewed as a pilot study, the
results of which warrant further investigation.
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