The effects of expressive writing before or after punch biopsy on wound healing

Robinson, Hayley, Jarrett, Paul, Vedhara, Kavita and Broadbent, Elizabeth (2017) The effects of expressive writing before or after punch biopsy on wound healing. Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, 61 . pp. 217-227. ISSN 0889-1591

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Objective: Recent studies have shown that written emotional disclosure (expressive writing) performed in the two weeks prior to wounding improves healing of punch biopsy wounds. In many clinical settings, it would be more practical for patients to perform this intervention after wounding. The aim of this study was to investigate whether expressive writing could speed the healing of punch biopsy wounds if writing was performed after wounds were made.

Methods: One hundred and twenty-two healthy participants aged between 18 and 55 years were randomly allocated to one of four groups in a 2 (intervention) by 2 (timing) design. Participants performed either expressive writing or neutral writing, either before or after receiving a 4 mm punch biopsy wound. Wounds were photographed on day 10 (primary endpoint) and day 14 after the biopsy to measure epithelisation. Participants also completed questionnaires on stress and affect two weeks prior to the biopsy, on the day of biopsy and two weeks after biopsy.

Results: There was a significant difference in healing at day 10 between groups, χ2(3, N = 97) = 8.84, p = 0.032. A significantly greater proportion of participants who performed expressive writing before the biopsy had fully reepithelialised wounds on day 10 compared to participants who performed neutral writing either before or after wounding, with no other significant differences between groups. Amongst people who wrote expressively after wounding, those who finished writing over the first 6 days were significantly more likely to be healed at 14 days than those who finished writing later. There were significant differences in positive and negative affect over the healing period between the pre and post expressive writing groups.

Conclusions: Expressive writing can improve healing if it is performed prior to wounding. Performing expressive writing after wounding may be able to improve healing depending on the timing of writing and wound assessment. Expressive writing causes affect to worsen followed by subsequent improvement and it is important to consider this in the timing of intervention delivery. Further research with patient groups is required to determine the clinical relevance of these findings.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Biopsy; Wound healing; Expressive writing; Pre; Post; Affect
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Identification Number:
Depositing User: McCambridge, Mrs April
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2017 11:09
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:39

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