Date of Award

6-2016

Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley

Language

English

Keywords

writing, expressive

Abstract

Caregivers face challenges that take a tremendous toll both mentally and physically, while also having to experience their changing relationship with a loved one who continously deteriorates. (Ornstein, Gaugler, Devanand, Scarmeas, Zhu, & Stern, 2013). The purpose of my study will be to examine if utilizing expressive writing (EW) can benefit caregivers of loved ones with Parkinson’s disease. I hypothesized that EW would help allievate caregiver burden, and decrease negative mood and healthier coping means, while caregivers who write within a postive framework will experience the greatest alleviation of burden, better reported mood, and coping means. In this study the caregivers’ stress and coping skill were assessed before and after the EW intervention. Caregivers were provided with online journals in which they were instructed to write for twenty minutes a day for three consecutive days. They were given prompts to direct their writing. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: 1) writing only about the positive emotions experienced or 2) writing about the negative and positive emotions felt as a caregiver. After the end of their intervention participants' journal entries were analyzed using a linguistic word count program (LIWC) to test hypotheses regarding benefits of varied EW strategies. Trends showed that EW was most beneficial for participants caring for loved ones in the earlier stages of Parkinson’s and placed in the postive framing condition. The finding suggests that future research should focus on the impact of positive emotion focus and healthier coping styles and length of effective journaling.

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