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A School-Based Expressive Writing Intervention for At-Risk Urban Adolescents' Aggressive Behavior and Emotional Lability

NCJ Number
Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Volume: 40 Issue: 5 Dated: 2011 Pages: 693-705
Wendy Kliewer; Stephen J. Lepore; Albert D. Farrell; Kevin W. Allison; Aleta L Meyer; Terri N Sullivan; Anne V. Greene
Date Published
13 pages
This school-based randomized controlled trial tested the efficacy of two expressive writing interventions among youth living in high-violence urban neighborhoods.
Seventeen classrooms (n = 258 seventh graders; 55 percent female; 91 percent African American/Black) from three public schools were randomized to three conditions in which they wrote eight times about a non-emotional topic (control condition) or about experiencing and witnessing violence following either a standard or an enhanced expressive writing protocol. Outcomes were assessed 1 month prior and 2 and 6 months post-intervention and included teacher-rated emotional lability and aggressive behavior and child-rated physical aggression. Intent-to-treat, mixed-model analyses controlled for pre-intervention measures of outcomes, sex, race, and family structure. At 2 months postintervention, relative to controls, students in the standard expressive writing condition had lower levels of teacher-rated aggression and lability (d = -.48). The beneficial effects of the writing interventions on aggression and lability were stronger at higher levels of exposure to community violence. (publisher abstract modified)