Written emotional expression: Effect sizes, outcome types, and moderating variables

Joshua M. Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

959 Scopus citations


A research synthesis was conducted to examine the relationship between a written emotional expression task and subsequent health. This writing task was found to lead to significantly improved health outcomes in healthy participants. Health was enhanced in 4 outcome types - reported physical health, psychological well-being, physiological functioning, and general functioning - but health behaviors were not influenced. Writing also increased immediate (pre- to postwriting) distress, which was unrelated to health outcomes. The relation between written emotional expression and health was moderated by a number of variables, including the use of college students as participants, gender, duration of the manipulation, publication status of the study, and specific writing content instructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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