Disclosure of traumas and health among holocaust survivors

J. W. Pennebaker, S. D. Barger, J. Tiebout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


On the basis of a theory of inhibition and psychosomatics, it was predicted that the more individuals disclosed personally traumatic experiences, the better their long-term health following the disclosure. Thirty-three Holocaust survivors talked for 1-2 hours about their personal experiences during World War II while skin conductance level (SCL) and heart rate (HR) were continuously monitored. Each videotaped interview was rated by independent judges once every minute on the degree to which the survivor's experience was traumatic. For each subject, the trauma ratings were correlated with minute-by-minute SCL and HR readings. Based on previous research, negative trauma-SCL correlations are indicative of high personal disclosure, whereas positive trauma-SCL correlations suggest low disclosure. Approximately 14 months after the interview, self-reports of the subjects' health were collected. Controlling for pre-interview health problems, degree of disclosure during the interview was found to be positively correlated with long-term health after the interview. The possible health benefits of disclosure are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-589
Number of pages13
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Disclosure of traumas and health among holocaust survivors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this