Author (Your Name)

Kristen Thatcher, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Psychology Dept.




Many studies have demonstrated the health benefits of written disclosure of traumatic or stressful events. These benefits include improved psychological well-being, fewer health clinic visits, shorter hospital stays after surgery, and increased immune function. In athletes, high immune function is necessary to ward off illness during training and competition, but much research has shown that athletes tend to have lowered immune function. Therefore, writing about traumatic events may be a way for athletes to remain healthy during their seasons. To test this hypothesis, 21 varsity athletes and 15 individuals who exercised less than three hours per week participated in the current study. Saliva samples and reported psychological and physical health measures were taken before participants wrote in an online journal on four consecutive days. Saliva samples were taken again both one and three weeks after baseline, and reported health was measured again three weeks after baseline. It was expected that for those who wrote about traumatic events, both reported health and the secretory IgA content of the saliva would increase. The data showed that those who wrote about traumatic events experienced a decrease in negative affect, but not an increase in physical well-being. The immune data was not usable.


Written communication -- Therapeutic use, Self-disclosure -- Health aspects, Stress (Psychology) -- Prevention, Athletes -- Psychology, Psychology

Included in

Psychology Commons