This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Power of the Written Word




Crouse, Naomi

Type of Degree



Biomedical Sciences


A diagnosis of cancer can catapult a person into a time period dominated by uncertainty and a perceived decrease in quality of life. Literature supports that writing honestly about emotions associated with traumas may address and reverse negative emotions and increase people’s positive functioning. The purpose of this study was to investigate if expressive writing made a difference in uncertainty and quality of life for newly-diagnosed cancer patients. Fourteen patients just beginning their treatment phases were recruited and randomized into writing and non-writing groups. The writing group was given Pennebaker’s writing prompt. Mishel’s Uncertainty in Illness scale and Ferrans and Powers Quality of Life Index were administered at entry into the study and after three months. Findings were not statistically significant, however the small sample size and having multiple cancer diagnoses may have contributed to this. Findings reinforced uniqueness of illness experience and quality of life for each individual.