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Research into stress and the immune system evaluation (AO2):
Why a relationship between stress and illness is difficult to establish?
1. (-) Health is affected by many different factors (including genetic influences etc.). As a result,
there may be little variance left that can be accounted for by stress.
2. (-) Health is generally fairly stable and slow to change. As a result, it makes it difficult to
demonstrate that exposure to particular stressors have caused a change in health.
3. (-) To demonstrate how stress affects long-term health would involve continuous
measurement over time. This would be expensive and impractical; therefore most research
has concentrated on relatively short periods of time.
(+ )Individual differences:
Gender: Women show more adverse hormonal and immunological changes in the way they react to
Age: As people age, stress has a greater effect on the immune system functioning, making it harder
for the body to regulate itself.
(+) Real world applications:
Knowledge of how stress affects immune system functioning has led to many new programmes for a
`healthy lifestyle'. Stress coping behaviours can be taught to groups of all ages and backgrounds.
Techniques include deep breathing and expressive writing. People who use stress coping behaviours
generally report improvement in their physical and psychological being.