Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunetra Martinez completes dissertation in the School of Psychology

Effects of Expressive Writing on the Mental Health and the Physical Well-being Of American Asian Indians -- Sunetra Tarafdar Martinez

Sunetra Martinez is a Post-Doctoral Psychology Fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center

This study investigated the efficacy of Pennebaker’s expressive writing paradigm with American Asian Indians in helping them better express their negative life experiences. Pennebaker’s theoretical models, inhibitory process and cognitive process, were tested with this population to determine psychological and physical benefits. The study adds to the research investigating the mental health of American Asian Indians. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used in the present study to examine the difference between two groups, experimental and control, on all outcome measures. The outcome measures included the Center for Epidemiological Studies – Depression Scale (CES-D) and The Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ) to measure psychological distress. Physical well-being was measured using the Pennebaker Inventory of Limbic Languidness (PILL) and The SMU Health Questionnaire (SMUHQ). The moderator variable for this study was acculturation Stress, which was measured using the Acculturation Stress for International Students (ASSIS). The mediator variables included inhibitory processing, measured using the Cognitive Avoidance Questionnaire (CAQ) and cognitive processing, and measured using the Impact of Events Questionnaire (IES). This results of this study indicated that there were no differences found between pre and post-test measures when comparing expressive writing group with a control group. Moderator effects of acculturation stress were not found for either psychological distress or physical well-being. Mediator effects of inhibitory and cognitive processing could not be determined as a result of no effects found between expressive writing and any of the outcome measures of psychological distress and physical well-being. Finally, future directions for continued research exploring the mental health of American Asian Indians are discussed.

Key Words: American Asian Indian, Expressive Writing Intervention, Pennebaker, Psychological Distress, Physical Well-being

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