Effects of written anger expression in chronic pain patients: Making meaning from pain

Jennifer E. Graham, Marci Lobel, Peter Glass, Irina Lokshina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Based on prior research demonstrating benefits of emotional disclosure for chronically ill individuals and evidence that anger is particularly problematic in chronic pain sufferers, outpatients from a chronic pain center (N = 102) were randomly assigned to express their anger constructively or to write about their goals non-emotionally in a letter-writing format on two occasions. Letters were coded for degree of expressed anger and meaning-making (speculation and insight into conditions that precipitated anger). Over a 9 week period, participants in the anger-expression group (n = 51) experienced greater improvement in control over pain and depressed mood, and marginally greater improvement in pain severity than the control group (n = 51). Degree of expressed anger uniquely accounted for intervention effects and meaning-making mediated effects on depressed mood. These findings suggest that expressing anger may be helpful for chronic pain sufferers, particularly if it leads to meaning-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-212
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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