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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 September, 2003, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Written word helps wounds heal
Writing was found to be cathartic
Pouring your emotions out on paper could help wounds heal quicker, researchers say.

It is thought that writing about troubling experiences helps people deal with them.

This could then help the immune system work more effectively, researchers told the British Psychological Society conference in Stoke-on-Trent.

They say their findings offer a cheap and easy to administer way of helping patients heal faster.


In the study, which involved 36 people, half were asked to write about the most upsetting experience they had had, spelling out how they had felt.

The rest of the study participants wrote about trivial things, such as how they spent their free time.

Both groups spent 20 minutes a day for three days writing.

Following the writing exercise, researchers created a small skin puncture on the participants' upper arms.

The wounds were examined two weeks later.

It was found that the group who had written about their emotional experiences had smaller wounds, meaning they had healed more quickly.

Those whose wounds were healing more slowly were found to have higher levels of stress and psychological distress.

'Easy to administer'

Suzanne Scott, from the Unit of Psychology at King's College London, who led the research, told BBC News Online: "These findings have implications for the development of relatively brief and easy interventions that could have beneficial effects on wound healing.

"The theory is that there's a long-term health benefit.

She added: "It's easy to administer because the people don't need to have gone through some awful experience, they just need to write about their most upsetting experience."

Psychologists say stress also influences how people recover from surgery.

They say high stress levels mean people recover more slowly.

Professor John Weinman of King's College London told the BPS conference: "These research findings can help patients and will be important for developing interventions for patients undergoing different types of surgery."

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