The pen is mightier than the phone: study

A STUDY involving almost 200 returned US soldiers has shown how “delayed” forms of spousal communication during deployment were protective against post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Receiving regular letters, care packages and emails from a loved one was seen to reduce symptoms for PTSD in returned soldiers who otherwise reported a happy marriage.

Phone calls and other “immediate” modes of communication did not carry the same benefit.

“We think that letters, which happened less often overall compared to phone calls, had stronger effects,” a researcher said, noting a letter can be “read again and again, and when you write them, it can be therapeutic”.

If a soldier reported low satisfaction in their marriage, then PTSD symptoms could be made worse through regular contact, they found.

J Traum Stress, online 25 May