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Expressive writing can help wounds heal faster

Writing emotionally about past stressful events before having a biopsy can help wounds heal faster than writing about a neutral topic, a study has found.
write

People who wrote emotionally about past stressful events two weeks before having a biopsy saw their wound heal faster than people who wrote about factual day-to-day activities, a study has found.

The research, conducted by the University of Auckland in New Zealand and the University of Nottingham, recruited 122 participants from Auckland aged between 18 and 55.

They were randomly allocated to one of four groups, doing expressive writing before or after a punch biopsy, or a writing about a neutral topic before and after a biopsy.

The expressive writing groups were asked to write about their 'deepest thoughts and feelings about a traumatic, upsetting experience of your entire life'.

When is important

Control groups were asked to write factually about their daily activities.

A dermatologist performed a

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People who wrote emotionally about past stressful events two weeks before having a biopsy saw their wound heal faster than people who wrote about factual day-to-day activities, a study has found.

write
When and what you write can help wounds heal. Picture: iStock

The research, conducted by the University of Auckland in New Zealand and the University of Nottingham, recruited 122 participants from Auckland aged between 18 and 55.

They were randomly allocated to one of four groups, doing expressive writing before or after a punch biopsy, or a writing about a neutral topic before and after a biopsy.

The expressive writing groups were asked to write about their 'deepest thoughts and feelings about a traumatic, upsetting experience of your entire life'.

When is important

Control groups were asked to write factually about their daily activities.

A dermatologist performed a 4mm punch biopsy to each participant’s inner upper arm.

After 10 days, results showed that 52% of those who wrote expressively before the biopsy wounds had healed, while only 27% of people who wrote expressively afterward had healed.

In the control group, only 15% of those who wrote about neutral topics before the biopsy saw their wounds heal. Some 23% of those who wrote about a neutral topic after a biopsy saw their wound heal.

'The results are important because they suggest that when you write is important, not just what you write about,' said lead author and University of Auckland doctoral candidate Hayley Robinson.


Robinson H et al (2017), The effects of expressive writing before or after punch biopsy on wound healing. Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2016.11.025

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