Study: Writing No Help for Asthma Sufferers

Posted on March 10, 2005

While journal writing may have some health benefits, it doesn't appear to help people with asthma. Reuters reports that "Previous research has suggested that writing for as little as three 20-minute sessions about upsetting experiences can improve short-term memory, reduce people's need to call in sick from work, help them earn better grades in college, and cause them to schedule fewer visits to the doctor."

A study in 1999 did find some benefits from writing in people with asthma. However, a new study by Dr. Alex H. S. Harris, reported in the January/February 2005 issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, found no health benefit for asthma sufferers. Patients were randomly assigned to write for 20 minutes, once per week, for 3 weeks about stressful experiences, positive experiences, or neutral experience. At baseline, post intervention, and 2-month follow up, patients were assessed by spirometry.

Harris reported that results found no statistically or clinically significant improvement in the patients' pulmonary function. Harris concluded that the present study reduces confidence in the ability of written emotional expression to benefit the disease status of asthma patients.

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