Try our beta test site
IMPORTANT: Listing of a study on this site does not reflect endorsement by the National Institutes of Health. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional before volunteering for a study. Read more...

Expressive Writing for Reducing Stress and Diabetic Symptoms in Diabetes Patients

This study has been completed.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Syracuse University Identifier:
First received: September 13, 2005
Last updated: April 13, 2016
Last verified: November 2009
This study will determine whether the psychological benefits of expressive writing extend to diabetic patients, how long the benefits will last, and whether additional expressive writing "booster" sessions will lead to greater and more sustained improvement in diabetes symptoms and well-being.

Condition Intervention Phase
Diabetes Mellitus
Behavioral: Expressive writing
Behavioral: Neutral writing
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Participant, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Expressive Writing: Complementary Treatment for Diabetes

Further study details as provided by Syracuse University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • hemoglobin A1C (indicator of blood glucose) [ Time Frame: baseline, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, and 16 months ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Diabetes symptoms [ Time Frame: baseline, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, and 16 months ]
  • stress levels [ Time Frame: baseline, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, and 16 months ]
  • depression [ Time Frame: baseline, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, and 16 months ]
  • cognitive function [ Time Frame: baseline, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, and 16 months ]
  • quality of life [ Time Frame: baseline, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, and 16 months ]

Enrollment: 187
Study Start Date: September 2005
Study Completion Date: February 2009
Primary Completion Date: February 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Expressive writing
Expressive writing
Behavioral: Expressive writing
Writing as therapeutic intervention
Sham Comparator: Neutral writing
Non-expressive writing
Behavioral: Neutral writing
Non-expressive writing

Detailed Description:

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness, kidney failure, and nontraumatic lower extremity amputation in the United States. Conditions such as stress and depression have been shown to worsen diabetic symptoms. Data indicate that expressive writing (an activity during which individuals deal with stressful experiences by writing about them on paper) has beneficial effects on psychological and physiological outcomes. This study will determine whether diabetes patients can benefit from expressive writing. This study will also determine the duration of the benefits and the effectiveness of booster sessions in improving their diabetic symptoms.

Participants will be randomly assigned to engage in expressive writing or neutral writing for 18 months. Participants in the expressive writing group will write about traumatic or stressful events; participants in the neutral writing group will write about neutral topics that do not affect them emotionally. Some participants in the expressive writing group will receive an additional 4 months of booster sessions of expressive writing. All participants will undergo interviews, blood collection, physical exams and complete clinical scales on their disease status, quality of life, and psychological well-being; these assessments will occur at study entry, every 4 months during the study, and at the end of the study.


Ages Eligible for Study:   25 Years to 75 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus made after age 24

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Diabetes-related emergency room visit within 3 months prior to study entry
  • Use of psychiatric medication within 3 months prior to study entry
  • Visual or manual limitations that preclude reading and writing
  • Use of insulin within the first year of diabetes diagnosis
  • Pregnancy or plan to become pregnant
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00233142

United States, New York
State University of New York Medical University
Syracuse, New York, United States, 13244
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York, United States, 13244
United States, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania, United States, 16802
United States, Tennessee
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee, United States, 37235
Sponsors and Collaborators
Syracuse University
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Principal Investigator: Joshua M. Smyth, PhD Syracuse University
  More Information

Responsible Party: Syracuse University Identifier: NCT00233142     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: R01AT002477 ( US NIH Grant/Contract Award Number )
Study First Received: September 13, 2005
Last Updated: April 13, 2016

Keywords provided by Syracuse University:
Blood glucose
Expressive Writing

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Diabetes Mellitus
Glucose Metabolism Disorders
Metabolic Diseases
Endocrine System Diseases processed this record on May 25, 2017