Expressive Writing for Resilience in Adult Pediatric Oncology Survivors and Their Caregivers (2018-2019)

Even when childhood cancer is successfully treated, psychological effects can endure for decades. Parents and caregivers also report significant emotional distress.

Expressive writing offers a low-cost therapeutic intervention for former patients and caregivers. Guided by prompts, participants write about a traumatic or stressful event. Sustained expressive writing promotes healing from emotional upheavals, while helping resolve current challenges, cultivate resilience, and improve overall health and well-being.

This project team set out to determine whether a pilot expressive writing intervention can increase resilience for adult survivors of childhood cancer and their caregivers. Along the way, all students became certified as expressive writing instructors and completed portfolios documenting their work. Following completion of the study and data analysis, team leaders plan to expand the scope of the research into the Durham community.


Fall 2018 – Fall 2019

Team Outputs

Elizabeth Bechard, John Evans, Eunji Cho, Yufen Lin, Arthi Kozhumam, Jill Jones, Sydney Grob, Oliver Glass. 2021. "Feasibility, acceptability, and potential effectiveness of an online expressive writing intervention for COVID-19 resilience." Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

Jill K. Jones, John F. Evans, Raymond C. Barfield. 2021. "The Utility of Verbal Therapy for Pediatric Cancer Patients and Survivors: Expressive Writing, Video Narratives, and Bibliotherapy Exercises." Frontiers in Pediatrics 9:579003.

Expressive Writing for Resilience: Writing to Heal (poster by Jill Jones, Dahlia Chacon, Arthi Kozhumam, Nicoly Santos, Jai Eun Huh, Katie Xu, Anna Savelyeva, Lucy Zheng, John Evans, Oliver Glass, Ray Barfield, Elizabeth Matteson Bechard, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Oliver Glass, Mark Dreusicke, John Evans, Elizabeth Bechard, Ruth Q. Wolever. 2019. “Expressive writing to improve resilience to trauma: A clinical feasibility trial.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 34:240-246


Expressive Writing for Resilience: Writing to Heal

Expressive Writing for Resilience in Adult Pediatric Oncology Survivors and Their Caregivers


Ayesha Syed

Sydney Grob

This Team in the News

Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2021

Health Humanities Finds Success in Online Expressive Writing Seminars

Dorothy Adu-Amankwah: Narratives of Trauma

Meet the Members of the 2019-2020 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

“The B-Word”: Changing a Culture of Burnout Shame

Four Duke Juniors Named Goldwater Scholars

Class of 2019: Biology Student Learns the Value of Expressive Writing in Healing

Bass Connections: Expressive Writing as Therapy for Pediatric Cancer Survivors

New Blogger: Victoria Priester Loves Animals and Books

Meet the Members of the 2018-19 Student Advisory Council

fountain pen and paper

Team Leaders

  • Raymond Barfield, School of Medicine-Pediatrics
  • John Evans, Wellness & Writing Connections
  • Oliver Glass, School of Medicine-Medicine: General Internal Medicine

/graduate Team Members

  • Eunji Cho, Nursing-PHD
  • Yufen Lin, Nursing-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Lindsay Maggioncalda, Computer Science (BS)
  • Lucy Zheng, Biology (BS)
  • Megan Zhao, Biology (BS)
  • Katie Xu, Cultural Anthropology (AB)
  • Ayesha Syed, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Dorothy Smith, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Sabina Savelyeva, Biology (BS)
  • Nicoly Santos, Psychology (AB)
  • Holly Ren, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Victoria Priester, Biology (BS)
  • Teresa Meng, Biology (BS)
  • Caitlyn Martinez, Biology (BS)
  • Dorothy Adu-Amankwah, English (AB)
  • Sydny Long, Psychology (BS)
  • Arthi Kozhumam, Biology (BS)
  • Jill Jones, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Jai Eun Huh, Biology (BS)
  • Charles Huang, Biology (BS)
  • Sydney Grob, Biology (BS)
  • Lydia Goff, English (AB)
  • Thea Dowrich, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Dahlia Chacon, English (AB)
  • Grace Cai, Psychology (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Elizabeth Matteson Bechard, Duke Center for Integrative Medicine