Improving cancer caregivers’ emotion regulation and supportive message characteristics: Results of a randomized controlled expressive writing intervention *

Jacquelyn A. Harvey, Valerie Manusov, Elizabeth A. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study tested whether a 17-day randomized controlled expressive writing (EW) intervention improved cancer caregivers’ emotion regulation ability and if improved emotion regulation predicted increases in verbal person-centered message characteristics present in caregivers’ recalled support conversations with cancer survivors. Participants (N = 64) were spousal caregivers of hematopoietic stem cell transplant cancer survivors assigned to one of three writing conditions: traumatic disclosure (TD), benefit finding (BF), or a time-management control. Caregivers completed writings three times at one-week intervals, along with pre- and posttest reports of emotion regulation and written accounts of supportive conversations with spousal survivors. Both EW conditions (TD and BF) predicted reduced emotion regulation difficulty compared to the control condition. Cognitive, pronoun, and positive affect word usage within EWs did not predict emotion regulation improvement. However, use of negative emotion words predicted significant increases in emotion regulation difficulty across conditions. Verbal person-centeredness (VPC) message characteristics significantly increased from pre- to posttest for those assigned to the BF and control conditions. Despite change in VPC, emotion regulation did not mediate the relationship between condition assignment and message characteristic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Monographs
Volume86
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

Keywords

  • Cancer caregivers
  • expressive writing
  • social support provision
  • social support quality
  • verbal person-centeredness

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