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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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51. Test of an online Expressive Writing intervention to reduce psychopathology following a disaster: The Hurricane Harvey Mom Project

A major stressor during pregnancy increases risk for perinatal depression. Psychosocial interventions may buffer mothers from this stress. Given the increase in natural disasters, however, many thousands of pregnant women could be affected at once, challenging society to provide psychosocial relief to all. Pennebaker’s Expressive Writing intervention has been shown to significantly improve psychological and physical health. Our objective was to determine if it could be delivered online to women in the aftermath of a disaster. In August 2017 Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston at record levels. We quickly recruited 1,000 women who had been pregnant, or up to 6 months preconception, during the flood. We randomly assigned them to three groups: Expressive writing (their deepest thoughts and feelings); Neutral writing; or a Control group with no writing. They completed symptom questionnaires before, and two months after, the intervention. All procedures were conducted online. Despite no main effect of intervention group on symptoms, preliminary results (n = ~100/group) showed that the worse the flood exposure, the greater the benefit from Expressive Writing. Subsequent analyses with the full sample resulted in less clear findings. What do race and ethnicity have to do with it? We will present final results at SRP 2019.

Suzanne King
McGill University

Guillaume Elgbeili
Douglas Research Centre

David P. Laplante
Douglas Research Centre

Johanna Bick
University of Houston

David Olson
University of Alberta


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