Joshua M Smith and his team from North Dakota University, USA, suggest that writing can help improve the health of people, especially those suffering from chronic illnesses. The researchers asked 112 patients with asthma and rheumatic arthritis to write about their most traumatic experiences for 20 minutes at a time over three consecutive days a week. The topics included death of a loved one or eye-witness account of a disaster like a car accident. Patients in the control group, instead, wrote about their plans for the day. Four months later, people who shared their stressful events in writing were significantly better when measured by standard tests. The researchers are now testing whether such a writing exercise could help beyond four months. While they are unsure as to how writing helps combat ill health, they speculate that it may boost the immune system or lower blood pressure ( Journal of American Medical Association , Vol 261, No 14).
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