Terms of Use

 

About Writing for Health

Writing for Health is a brief online program for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes that involves three simple online writing exercises. 

It aims to improve the health and emotional wellbeing of people living with diabetes.

This program was developed because previous research has shown that writing about certain topics may have benefits in reducing stress and improving mental and physical health for some people with medical conditions. Our research team hopes to learn whether such writing can assist people in dealing with the impact of diabetes.

Writing for Health is designed to be a brief complementary intervention for people with diabetes, to be offered in addition to treatment as usual. 

Use of the Writing for Health program is completely voluntary.

Participants interact with the program via the Internet.

 

Who is Writing for Health for?

Writing for Health is for people aged 18 years or older. If you are under 18 years of age, please do not use the program.

Writing for Health is designed for people with a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. 

The program is not a substitute for clinical/medical treatment or advice.

Writing for Health is currently only available to people living in Australia participating in a pilot trial of the program.

     The pilot trial of Writing for Health is for people who:

  • Have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes

  • Are aged 18 years or over

  • Live in Australia

  • Are not currently experiencing significant mental health problems

  • Have access to the Internet

  • Are willing to provide your name, email address and contact telephone number

Writing for Health is designed for people who are not currently experiencing depression or another significant mental illness, but may be experiencing some mild stress or concerns related to living with diabetes.

If you have a serious mental health condition such that you are at risk of harming yourself or another person you should not use or continue to use Writing for Health but should seek urgent medical advice from either your doctor, mental health care professional,  Lifeline on 13 11 14, an emergency department of a hospital or, if in immediate danger, call the emergency number '000'.

As the laws of other countries may differ from Australia, the program is designed to only be used by people who are resident and located in Australia. You must not use the program if you live in or are located overseas.

 

Writing for Health does not provide diagnoses or treatment

The diagnosis and treatment of diabetes requires a medical practitioner or qualified mental health professional. People seeking a diagnosis or treatment of diabetes should consult a medical practitioner or mental health professional.  None of the information on this website is a substitute for a diagnosis and treatment by an appropriate health professional.

The screening tests and quizzes in Writing for Health are intended solely for the purpose of identifying symptoms of depression, anxiety and diabetes-related distress and are not designed to provide a diagnosis.

 

It is not yet known whether Writing for Health is effective

It is yet not known if Writing for Health is an effective program for improving any aspects of mental or physical wellbeing and St Vincent’s Health Australia and the University of New South Wales and their staff make no claims as to the effectiveness of the program at this stage.

 

Liability

To the full extent permitted by law, St Vincent’s Health Australia and the University of New South Wales and, as well as their staff, agents, contractors and students shall have no liability for claims by, or loss, injury, cost, expense or damages of any kind whatsoever to, a user of this website or any other person however arising in connection with the website or any decision or action taken in reliance on the information contained on this website. Excluded damages include, without limitation, direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages.

 

Links to other websites

Writing for Health contains links to internet websites operated by other parties. These linked sites are not controlled by us and we are not responsible for their content. We provide these links to you as a convenience only, and we do not necessarily endorse the linked website.

 

Below is information about the pilot trial of the Writing for Health program (also known as the ‘Diabetes and Writing Study’).

This information is also presented at the beginning of the Writing for Health program.

PARTICIPANT INFORMATION

CLINICAL RESEARCH

Diabetes and Writing Study

 

Invitation

You are invited to participate in a research study into diabetes and writing exercises.

This study is an evaluation of the Internet-based Writing for Health program.

Writing for Health is a brief online program for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes that involves doing some simple writing exercises online.

It involves three online writing exercises (once a day, for three days in a row), with each writing exercise taking only 15 minutes. The program provides guidelines for topics to write about.

It was developed because research has shown that writing about certain topics may have benefits in reducing stress and improving mental and physical health for some people with medical conditions. Our research team hopes to learn whether such writing can assist people in dealing with the impact of diabetes.

The aim of this study is to investigate whether the writing exercises in the Writing for Health program improve the mental and physical wellbeing of people with diabetes.

This research study is a collaboration between St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and the University of New South Wales. 

The study is being conducted by:

  • Professor Kay Wilhelm (Research Director, Faces in the Street: Urban Mental Research Institute, St Vincent’s Hospital and Senior Staff Specialist, Consultation Liaison Psychiatry, St Vincent’s Hospital)
  • Joanna Crawford (Honorary Research Officer, Faces in the Street: Urban Mental Research Institute, St Vincent’s Hospital; PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales; Registered Psychologist )

  • Associate Professor Judy Proudfoot (Senior Research Fellow, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales; eMental Health Director, Black Dog Institute)

  • Therese Fletcher (Research Assistant, Faces in the Street: Urban Mental Health Research Institute, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney)

Before you decide whether or not you wish to participate in this study, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take the time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish.

Before participating in this study, you will be asked to check a box to indicate that you have read, understood and agree to all of the information in this “Participant Information and Consent” section.

Please also note that if you choose to participate in this study and go on to register for Writing for Health, the information in this “Participant Information and Consent” will be available on the Writing for Health program for you to refer back to at any time.

 

What is the purpose of this study?

Past research studies in people with a number of medical conditions have found that writing about certain topics may have benefits in reducing stress and improving health outcomes for some people.

The purpose is of this study is to compare two different types of writing exercises in the Writing for Health program for people with diabetes. The two types of writing exercises in Writing for Health are:

 

  • Writing about time management and use of time: For example, describing in detail how you spent your time yesterday and today, and planning how you will use your time over the next week. Living with the responsibility of self-care of diabetes can sometimes be challenging. Some people find that when they plan their time or organise their activities more, they feel less stressed.   OR

  • Writing about any positive thoughts and feelings about your experiences of living with diabetes: Whilst this may be difficult at first, this writing exercise involves identifying any positive changes from living with diabetes. Similar writing exercises have been found to improve the wellbeing of some people with other medical conditions.

Both types of writing exercises are based on strategies that have been found to reduce stress in some people.

 

If you choose to take part in the Writing for Health trial you will be participating in a randomised controlled study. Sometimes we do not know which intervention is best for helping people with a condition. To find out we need to compare different interventions. We put people into groups and give each group a different intervention. The results are compared to see if one is better. To try to make sure the groups are the same to start with each participant is put into a group by chance (random). If you choose to take part in the Writing for Health study, you will be randomly assigned to one of the two conditions – either the writing exercises about time management OR the writing exercises about positive thoughts and feelings related to living with diabetes.  You have a 50% chance of being assigned to each group.

 

The study will investigate whether these writing exercises for people with diabetes improve:

  • Coping with living with diabetes
  • Stress, mood and emotional well-being

  • Physical health

The study will also investigate which topics people with diabetes prefer to write about and find the most useful. In addition, we are interested in finding out how we can improve the Writing for Health program in the future. 

 

Why have I been invited to participate in this study?

You have been invited to participate in this study because you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The Writing for Health program is currently only available for people taking part in this study.

     This study is for people who:

  • Have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes

  • Are aged 18 years or over

  • Live in Australia

  • Are not currently experiencing significant mental health problems

  • Have access to the Internet

  • Are willing to provide your name, email address and contact telephone number

Before you can participate in this study, you will be asked to fill out an online questionnaire to check if it is suitable for you.  Immediate feedback will be provided.

Important: This study is not suitable for people who are who are currently experiencing significant mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety.  This is because Writing for Health is not a treatment for depression, anxiety or other mental health problems. Therefore it is not suitable for people who may need a higher level of support. 

 

What if I don’t want to take part in this study, or if I want to withdraw later?

Participation in this study is voluntary. It is completely up to you whether or not you participate. If you decide not to participate, it will not affect the treatment you receive now or in the future. Whatever your decision, it will not affect your relationship with any health care service.

If you wish to withdraw from the study once it has started, you can do so at any time without having to give a reason. To withdraw from the study, please email the Writing for Health research team on SVHS.WritingForHealth@svha.org.au.

However, it may not be possible to withdraw your data from the study results if these have already had your identifying details removed.

 

What does this study involve?

If you agree to participate in this study, you will be asked to check the box under Agreement at the end of this information.

This study will be conducted over 18 months.  Your involvement in the study would be over three months. 

If you agree to participate in this study, the next steps will be:

 

  1. Is this program for me?  Questionnaires to check whether taking part in this research study is suitable for you.  You will be given immediate feedback.
  2. How do I register?  If taking part in this study is suitable for you, you can go ahead and register to take part.

    Registration will involve entering your name, email address and telephone number.  Your details will remain confidential.  (This is explained in more detail under confidentiality.)

  3. What next?  After registering, you will be asked to complete questionnaires on your experiences of living with and coping with diabetes.  These will take about 7 minutes to complete.

You will then be ready to start your Writing for Health daily writing exercises.  You will be randomly assigned (like rolling a dice) to one of two different types of online writing exercises.

 

What can I expect from the three writing exercises?

  • The Writing for Health program involves three writing exercises – for 15 minutes each.

  • It is best to do the three writing sessions once-a-day, for three days in a row.

  • For each of your writing sessions, you will be given instructions and guidelines of certain topics to write about.

  • You will then be asked to “write” by typing into the computer for 15 minutes.

  • You can choose to do these writing exercises at a time and place that suits you.We recommend that you find a quiet, private time and place to do your writing sessions without any distractions.

  • Just before and after each writing exercise, you will be asked to fill out some quick online questions about your current mood and feelings.

You don’t have to remember when it is time for your next writing exercise – you will be sent an email reminder when it is time to log in and do a writing exercise. Try to do your writing exercise the day that you receive a reminder email, but if you do not have time that day simply do it the next day instead.

 

Is there any follow-up after the writing exercises?

In order for us to evaluate whether the Writing for Health program has been helpful for you, we will ask you to please complete the following after you have finished the writing sessions:

  • A 5 -minute Feedback Survey at the end of the program

  • Follow-up questionnaires one month later
  • Follow-up questionnaires three months later

The follow-up questionnaires willl take about 10 minutes. They includes questions on your experiences of living with diabetes, physical health, stress and wellbeing and symptoms of depression and anxiety.  They are very important for our research trial, so we will greatly appreciate you filling them out.  

Please note that we are interested in feedback from all Writing for Health participants.  This means that even if you choose not to complete all writing sessions, we will still be interested to receive your feedback in the questionnaires.

 

Reminder emails

The Writing for Health program will send you emails reminding you to log on to Writing for Health when it is time to do a writing session, or it is time to fill out a follow-up questionnaire.

 

Please continue your usual healthcare

It is important to remember that taking part in this study is in addition to your usual healthcare.  Please continue your usual physical and mental healthcare, and start any new therapies or treatments as required, even if you are taking part in this study.

 

How is this study being paid for?

Funding for the development of the Writing for Health program and this study was provided by the Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government and Faces in the Street: Urban Mental Health Research Institute, St Vincent’s Hospital.

 

Are there risks to me in taking part in this study?

Writing exercises similar to the ones in this study have been used in numerous other research studies, so there is a wide experience in studies of this sort.

By taking part in this study, you may experience the following risks. If you choose to write about a stressful topic during one of the writing sessions, you may feel briefly stressed or upset.  However, this is unlikely as the instructions for the writing sessions in this study will not ask you to write about upsetting topics. If you become upset or distressed as a result of your participation in the research, we are able to arrange for counselling or other appropriate support. Any counselling or support will be provided by qualified staff who are not members of the study team. This counselling will be provided free of charge.

If you have any questions about the writing sessions, or have any concerns, you can contact a Writing for Health researcher during business hours (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday) on telephone: (02) 8382 1660 or email: SVHS.WritingForHealth@svha.org.au.

In the unlikely event that your responses to the online questionnaires after the writing sessions or in the follow-up questionnaires indicate that you are experiencing significant emotional distress, one of the Writing for Health research staff will contact you directly, using the telephone number or email address you provide, to check that you are receiving appropriate support.

You can choose to withdraw from the study or end the writing sessions at any time if you feel uncomfortable or would prefer not to continue. 

Also, you risk the loss of confidentiality under the following conditions: if you are thought to be at risk of self-harm or harming another, then this information must be released to the appropriate authorities.

 

Will I benefit from the study?

We expect that the mood, stress levels and health of some people will benefit from participating in this study.  However, as the Writing for Health program is still being evaluated, we cannot guarantee that it will be helpful for you - you may not benefit.

Information from this study may benefit other people with diabetes now or in the future. This study aims to further medical knowledge and may improve future management of diabetes, however it may not directly benefit you.

 

Will taking part in this study cost me anything, and will I be paid?

Participation in the Writing for Health program and this study will not cost you anything. You will not be paid for your participating in this study. 

 

How will my confidentiality be protected?

The information you provide in this study (including everything you enter into the Writing for Health program) will be kept confidential.

Only the Writing for Health researchers (Prof Kay Wilhelm, Joanna Crawford, A/Prof Judy Proudfoot and Therese Fletcher) and the Human Research Ethics Committee (for monitoring purposes) will know whether you are participating in the study and will have access to your questionnaire responses. No information from this study will be recorded in your medical file (if you have one) at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.

How is information stored?

All information gathered through Writing for Health is stored on a secure server and is subject to all reasonable security measures. The Writing for Health program collects data on which pages were visited and the date and time that exercises were completed.  This is to help us understand how people use the program.

In datafiles kept by the Writing for Health research team at St Vincent’s Hospital,Sydney, information with personal details (eg name and email address) is stored separately from questionnaire responses and writings. You will be assigned an identification number for the datafile.

In any publications of the results of the Writing for Health research trial, only group data will be reported, and you not be identified.

Will my personal information be sent to others? 

Any identifiable information that is collected about you in connection with this study will remain confidential and will be disclosed only with your permission, or except as required by law.

 

What happens with the results?

If you give us your permission by checking the consent box, we plan to discuss/publish the results of in this study in a paper in a peer-reviewed journal and possibly a conference presentation. 

In any publication, information will be provided in such a way that you cannot be identified. A summary of results of the study will be posted on the Writing for Health website when the study is finished.

What happens to my treatment when the study is finished?

Participation in this study will not affect your treatment – it is in addition to your usual therapies or treatments.

 

What should I do if I want to discuss this study further before I decide?

If you have any questions about this study, please feel free to contact the Writing for Health team on email: SVHS.WritingForHealth@svha.org.au or telephone (02) 8382 1660 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm). You can also contact the Principal Investigator of the study Prof Kay Wilhelm on (02) 8382 1540 or email Kay.Wilhelm@svha.org.au.

 

Who should I contact if I have concerns about the conduct of this study?

This study has been approved by St Vincent’s Hospital HREC. The full title of this study is “Internet-based benefit finding writing for diabetes: Feasibility testing and a randomised controlled trial”. Any person with concerns or complaints about the conduct of this study should contact the Research Office who is nominated to receive complaints from research participants. You should contact them on (02) 8382 2075 and quote HREC number HREC/13/SVH/379.] .

 

Agreement to participate in the Diabetes and Writing Study

  • I have read all of the information in the Participant Information
  • I understand that before I can register for Writing for Health, I will be asked to fill out some online questions and quizzes, to check if this study is suitable for me.  It is not right for me, I will not be able to participate, but will be provided with links to other websites for information.
  • I understand that if Writing for Health is suitable for me and I choose to register, I will provide my name, an email address and contact telephone number.  A researcher may contact me directly if my responses to online follow-up questionnaires suggest that I may need further support.
  • I understand that taking part in Writing for Health is in addition to my usual physical and mental healthcare, and that I should continue my regular treatments and therapies as usual, and start and new treatments or therapies as needed.