for people ages 18-26 (full criteria)
Healthy Volunteers
healthy people welcome
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Brittany Drake (ucla)



Bereaved adolescents and emerging adults are at risk for developing psychological disorders and complicated grief. Clinical grief interventions and conventional wisdom reflect an implicit assumption that sharing and expressing one's feelings surrounding a loss (i.e., emotional disclosure) facilitates psychological adjustment. However, studies of emotional disclosure have yielded null results in bereaved samples. Individuals who have encountered stressful life events, including interpersonal loss, often report a desire to "give back" to others in similar situations. Empirical evidence suggests that providing support to others can be equally, if not more, beneficial than receiving support. The opportunity to support others experiencing stressful circumstances may address common feelings of powerlessness and engender a sense of meaning, enhancing positive affect and reducing distress. Interventions that leverage prosocial behaviors are associated with positive effects, including increases in wellbeing in non-bereaved populations. To date, no research has examined the utility of prosocial interventions for bereaved individuals. The present study tests a novel expressive helping intervention that combines elements of expressive disclosure and prosocial writing. Expressive helping will be compared to traditional expressive disclosure and a neutral writing control condition in a sample of bereaved young adults. Participants (N=156) will be randomized to one of three conditions-expressive disclosure, expressive helping, or a neutral writing control-and complete three weekly 20-minute writing sessions. Measures of psychological distress, well-being, and hypothesized mediators will be administered before, immediately following (within 48 hours of the final writing session), one month, and two months after the writing sessions. It is hypothesized that the participants in the expressive helping condition will evidence greater increases in well-being and decreases in grief-related distress at the one and two-month follow-ups, as compared to the other two groups.

Official Title

Combined Expressive Disclosure and Prosocial Writing to Promote Well-Being and Decrease Psychological Distress Among Bereaved Emerging Adults: Examining The Roles of Psychological Distancing, Universality, and Generativity


Bereavement Expressive Disclosure Prosocial Expressive Writing Peer Helping Young Adults Expressive Helping Fact-Writing


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-26

  1. Experienced the death of a loved one within the last 5 years, but more than 6 months ago.
  2. Endorse having close relationship with loved one at time of their death (i.e., 5 or above on 1-10 likert scale with 1 being not at all close, and 10 being extremely close).
  3. Endorse moderate to severe distress about the loss (i.e., 5 or above on 1-10 likert scale with 1 being not at all distressed, and 10 being extremely distressed).
  4. Feel comfortable writing in English (due to the linguistic nature of the writing sessions).
  5. Have access to the Internet and a computer to complete the assessments and writing sessions.

You CAN'T join if...

  1. Express active psychosis or suicidal ideation, or any other circumstances that, in the opinion of the investigators, compromise participant safety.


  • University of California, Los Angeles accepting new patients
    Los Angeles California 90095 United States

Lead Scientist at University of California Health


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, Los Angeles
Study Type
Expecting 156 study participants
Last Updated