Expressive Writing Among Chinese American Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Objective: Despite the significant size of the Asian American population, few studies have been conducted to improve cancer survivorship in this underserved group. Research has demonstrated that expressive writing interventions confer physical and psychological benefits for a variety of populations, including Non-Hispanic White cancer survivors. The study aims to evaluate the health benefits of an expressive writing intervention among Chinese-speaking breast cancer survivors in the U.S. It was hypothesized that expressive writing would increase health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Method: Ninety-six Chinese breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 writing conditions: a self-regulation group, an emotional disclosure group, or a cancer-fact group. The self-regulation group wrote about one’s deepest feelings and coping efforts in addition to finding benefits from their cancer experience. The emotional disclosure group wrote about one’s deepest thoughts and feelings. The cancer-fact group wrote about facts relevant to their cancer experience. HRQOL was assessed by FACT-B at baseline, 1, 3, and 6-month follow-ups. Effect sizes and residual zed change models were used to compare group differences in HRQOL. Results: Contrary to expectations, the cancer-fact group reported the highest level of overall quality of life at the 6-month follow-up. The self-regulation group had higher emotional well-being compared to the emotional disclosure group. Conclusions: The study challenges the implicit assumption that psychosocial interventions validated among Non-Hispanic Whites could be directly generalized to other populations. It suggests that Asians may benefit from writing instructions facilitating more cognitive than emotional processes.

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