Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 201–212 | Cite as

Effects of written anger expression in chronic pain patients: making meaning from pain

  • Jennifer E. GrahamEmail author
  • Marci Lobel
  • Peter Glass
  • Irina Lokshina


Based on prior research demonstrating benefits of emotional disclosure for chronically ill individuals and evidence that anger is particularly problematic in chronic pain sufferers, outpatients from a chronic pain center (N = 102) were randomly assigned to express their anger constructively or to write about their goals non-emotionally in a letter-writing format on two occasions. Letters were coded for degree of expressed anger and meaning-making (speculation and insight into conditions that precipitated anger). Over a 9 week period, participants in the anger-expression group (n = 51) experienced greater improvement in control over pain and depressed mood, and marginally greater improvement in pain severity than the control group (n = 51). Degree of expressed anger uniquely accounted for intervention effects and meaning-making mediated effects on depressed mood. These findings suggest that expressing anger may be helpful for chronic pain sufferers, particularly if it leads to meaning-making.


Chronic pain Anger expression Written emotional disclosure Meaning-making Depression Control 



This study was funded by awards from the American Psychological Association and Stony Brook University to Jennifer Graham. Marci Lobel received support from NIH Grant R01HD39753. We thank Drs. Susan Brennan and Anne Moyer for advice with study methodology, the director (Dr. Carole Agin), physicians, staff, and patients at the pain center, and our capable team of research assistants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer E. Graham
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marci Lobel
    • 2
  • Peter Glass
    • 3
  • Irina Lokshina
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biobehavioral HealthThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnesthesiologyStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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