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Objective: Although expressive writing (EW) appears efficacious for treating a range of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms including diagnosed PTSD, little is known about its efficacy when offered online and for ethnic/cultural minority populations such as Hispanic individuals. The current study examined the longitudinal effects of two online EW tasks for treating PTS symptoms in a Hispanic student sample.

Design: Seventy-one participants who had experienced a traumatic event were randomly assigned to either an emotion-focused (EM) writing group or a fact-focused (FC) writing group and completed online writing sessions for three consecutive days. Participants completed online assessments at 1-week, 1-month, and 3-month follow-ups. The PTSD Checklist–DSM-5 version was used to assess PTS symptoms.

Results: Both groups reported statistically significant reductions in severity of PTS symptoms at 1-week follow-up with the EM group demonstrating statistically significantly greater symptom reductions than the FC group. Differential longitudinal effects over the 3-month follow-up periods were found for some PTS domains, with the EM group showing superior improvements relative to the FC group.

Conclusion: EW delivered online can be useful for Hispanic individuals with PTS symptoms following traumatic life events. Further, the current findings align with an inhibitory learning model for explaining EW’s mechanism of action.


© 2020 Informa UK Limited. Original published version available at

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Psychology & Health



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Psychology Commons



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