Stress and the Immune System
- Kiecolt Glaser conducted a natural experiment using medical students. She took blood tests one month before and during the exam period finding lower levels of natural killer cells in the second sample. Stress does effect the immune system. But she only measured immune functioning not illness outcome.
- Cohen carried out a study on 394 healthy participants by exposing them to one of five variations of the cold virus. They were also given questionaires to rate stress on a scale from 1-12. Infection rates ranged from 74% to 90% depending on how much stress was experienced. Stress does effect the immune system. But ethically, the participants may have suffered from being exposed.
-Segerstrom and Miller did a meta analysis of 293 studies and found that accute stressors effect the immune system by increasing natural killer cell levels and chronic stressors effect the immune system because raised levels of corticosteriods suppress/cause downregulation in immune functioning.
Social Readjustment Rating Scale
- Homes and Rahe got 294 partcipants to rate and give scores for 43 life events compared to marriage (which had a score of 500). Scores were then divided by 100 and it was found that scores above 300 were closely related to accidents, illness etc.
- Rahe did a further study using 2500 US navy personel who filled out SRRS for the previous 6 months and the coming 7 months. They were also given an illness score based on severity and frequency and a 0.118 positive correlation was found.
- Thomas also found that increased LCU rates lead to increased motality rates in heart patients and Rosengreen found this to also be the case for the elderly. But, these groups lack generalisability.
- Kanner conducted a study using 100 45 -65 year old men and women and found that Daily Hassles were more positively correlated with psychological stress symptoms and predicted illness better than SRRS.
- This is supported by Neale who found that Daily hassles were more positively correlated with health outcomes than SRRS and DeLongis who found that daily hassles scores were more related to stress related illness than SRRS scores.
Work Related Stress
- Brady found with executive monkeys that control has a negative effect on the monkeys.
- Weiss found with executive rats that control and predictability had a positive effect on the rats during stress.
- Johnson and Sarasson found that those with a high internal locus of control were more affected by stress than those with high external.
- Marmot et al. used 7000 civil workers and found that those in low paid grades were 1.5 to 2.2 more likely to get CHD.
- Kahn and Cuthbertson found that working mothers experienced less role conflict and less stress than home makers because they received more support from their husband.
- Pomaki found with 226 doctors that role conflict led to emotional exhaustion and depression.
- Cooper et al. gave guidelines for what he believed would help stress in the workplace such as social events, individually tailored stress programmes etc.
- The use of Beta Blockers is supported by Lockwood who gave them to musicians to overcome and stage fright and found it helped them perform better.
- Benzodiazepines are supported by Hildago et al who found them effective in treating anxiety and Kahn et al who gave them to 250 participants over an 8 week period and found them more effective than a placebo.
- Stress Inoculation Therapy is supported by Meichenbaum who found it effective for phobias, acute and long term stressors and Sheehy and Horan who found it effective in improving academia for students.
- Rosenman supports the view that type A personality is more closely linked with stress. He used 3,124 middle aged men from the west coast of the USA in a longitudinal study and used interviews to work out what personality type they were. 8 1/2 years later, out of the 300 who had heart attacks 69% were type A personality.
- But, Ragland and Brand found that while smoking, alcoholism, drug taking etc are related to stress, type A is not.
- Mytek found that only the hostility characteristic of personality type A is related to stress.
- Denollet found that a different Type D personality was more closely related to stress than Type A.
- Kobassa suggested that personality of hardiness helps to combat stress and this consists of control, commitment and challenge.
- Maddi supports this by finding that 1/3 of US workers who rated high on hardiness were coping well with stress but the other 2/3 were suffering.
- Lifton also found that those with a 'hardy' personality were more likely to complete a degree.