Health and writing processing of emotional experience at work - J.W. Pennebaker’s studies showed positive results on health through the use of the writing technique in different subjects. In line with these studies and Health Psychology’s goals, in this research we applied Pennebaker’s Writing Technique to subjects in a fire brigade sample who are often exposed to emotional experiences during their work. The sample was divided in three groups. The first group wrote about their most traumatic working experience (Negative exp. Gr.). The second group wrote about the most rewarding working experience (Positive exp. Gr.). The third group didn’t receive any writing task (Control Gr.). The aims of the present study were to assess: 1) an improvement on health parameters in the two writing groups in respect to the control group; 2) an effectiveness of writing in the Positive experience gr. in the short period, in the Negative experience gr. in the long period; 3) a possible interaction between writing and alexithymia levels. Comparing the data of the three groups we found out significant differences confirming our hypothesis on our three dependent variables: sick leave days (F = 3.60; p < 0.04); SCL-90 scores (F = 5.56; p < 0.0005) and number of physical examinations reported in the Health Interview (F = 4.11; p < 0.03). Regarding our second hypothesis, results of this study suggest the need of adapting the writing task instructions to the context for a more effectiveness of the technique. Finally, interaction between writing and alexithymia was not found, possibly due to low alexithymia levels in the sample in general.
Keywords: Writing, health perception, alexithymia, emotional experience at work