Research into the effects of stress on the immune system

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  • Research into stress on the immune system
    • Cohen et al (1993)
      • Investigated role of general life stress on vulnerability to the common cold virus
      • 394 participants, volunteer sample
      • questionnaire 'number of stressful life events in the previous year'
        • rated degree of stress and level of negative emotions (depression)
        • 3 scores combined into a stress index
      • participants exposed to common cold virus
        • 82% became infected
        • after 7 days, number whose infection developed was recorded
        • Found a positive correlation between chances of developing a cold and stress index score
    • Cohen Evaluation
      • Supported by Evans and Edgington
        • probability od developing a cold was significantly correlated with negative effects
      • Cohen and Herbert
        • Stress associated with increased susceptibility to cold, flu, etc...
      • Volunteer sample
        • hard to generalise
        • no variety of personalities
      • Methodology (not an experiment)
        • no manipulation of variables (ethical)
    • Kiecolt-Glaser (1995)
      • looking at how quickly wounds would heal
      • 13 females (volunteers) caring for relative with dementia
      • matched-participants design
      • 13 volunteers= experimental conditions
      • 13 females matched with a carer same age and income= control group
      • All given a wound (puncture biopsy) 3.5mm below elbow, wound dressed and treated
      • measure levels of cytokines, given a perceived stress scale
      • healing took longer for carers
        • chronic stress depresses the immune systems function
    • Kiecolt-Glaser Evaluation
      • Natural experiment
      • supported by a separate Kiecolt-Glazer et al study (1984)
        • medical student about to take exam, natural killer cells lower (high stress)
      • Volunteer sample
        • Not representative of population


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