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Cancer Control Research

5R21CA098100-02
Wallston, Kenneth A.
EFFECT OF EXPRESSIVE WRITING ON CESSATION OF TOBACCO USE

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Over the last fifteen years, investigators have explored empirically the value of talking or writing about emotional experiences and have found a link between emotional disclosure about traumatic events and health outcomes. Dozens of well-controlled experimental studies have demonstrated the psychological and physical health benefits of an expressive writing task first developed and extensively investigated by the social psychologist, James Pennebaker. Using Pennebaker's programmed disclosure paradigm, individuals are asked to write about their thoughts and feelings in regard to a significant traumatic event in their lives. Compared to individuals instructed to disclose about trivial or superficial topics, those writing about emotional reactions to traumatic events have significantly better psychological, behavioral, and physiological outcomes. The studies that have been done to date support the notion that disclosure of emotions about deeply personal issues can have an impact on physical health, perceived well being, and certain adaptive health behaviors (Smyth & Pennebaker, 2001). The purpose of this exploratory study is to extend this programmed disclosure intervention to the arena of cancer prevention, namely tobacco-cessation. Participants in three tobacco-cessation treatment programs will participate in one of six quasi-experimental conditions crossing three Types of Programmed Disclosure Topics with two Modes of Disclosure. Change in tobacco usage at the end of the treatment program and at a three month follow-up will be the key dependent variable. Participants' socioeconomic status along with tobacco use history will be examined as potential moderator variables.


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