The unexpected impact of expressive writing on posttraumatic stress and growth in Chinese American breast cancer survivors

Matthew W. Gallagher, Laura J. Long, William Tsai, Annette L. Stanton, Qian Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: The present study examined the impact of expressive writing on reducing posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSS) and facilitating posttraumatic growth (PTG) in Chinese American breast cancer survivors. Method: Ninety-six women who had completed primary treatments for breast cancer were randomly assigned to a cancer experience facts condition, an emotional disclosure condition, or a self-regulation condition and wrote on three occasions over 3 weeks. Participants completed outcome assessments at baseline and 1, 3, and 6 months after the last writing session. Results: Surprisingly, results indicated that there was generally a small increase in PTSS (ESsg =.16) and a small decrease in PTG (ESsg = −.16) from baseline to the 6-month follow-up. Effect size comparisons and latent growth curve models also indicated that the cancer facts condition was generally associated with superior outcomes for both PTSS and PTG. Conclusions: These findings speak to the importance of examining whether interventions are equally efficacious in different cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1673-1686
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018



  • Asian Americans
  • cancer
  • expressive writing
  • posttraumatic growth
  • PTSD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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