Can writing speed physical healing?


Yes. Psychological stress impairs the healing of wounds. Writing about your problems can reduce stress and speed recovery.


Psychological stress is believed to impair wound healing via a down-regulation of the immune system. Since previous research suggests that disclosure of traumatic experiences can result in an up-regulation of immune function, the present study aimed to investigate the impact of a disclosure intervention on the progress of wound healing.


The study used a prospective, longitudinal design with random assignment to the control (writing about time management) and experimental group (writing about a traumatic event).


Participants (N=36) completed questionnaires measuring perceived and emotional distress, loneliness, self-esteem, social support, dispositional optimism, and health-related behaviours. Accurate indication of the healing of a small punch biopsy wound was determined by using a high-resolution ultrasound scanner.


Repeated measures ANOVA indicated that the disclosure intervention impacted wound healing. Participants who wrote about traumatic events had significantly smaller wounds 14 and 21 days after the biopsy compared with those who wrote about time management.


It is concluded that a relatively brief and easy to administer intervention can have beneficial effects on wound healing. The potential for use in patient samples is indicated.

Source: “Enhanced wound healing after emotional disclosure intervention.” from Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):95-102.

I found this study in Oliver Burkeman’s very interesting book Help! How to be slightly happier and get a bit more done.

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