Stress Studies

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  • Created on: 21-02-14 12:25

Stress and the Immune System Research

by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser

Study 1

To explore the effects of stress on the immune system

  • 75 first year medical students
  • stress levels assessed using a quentionnaire, qhich looked at psychiatric symptoms, loneliness, life events
  • students took a blood test one month before exam and right after
  • blood was tested for NK cells - a mesaure of the immune system's functioning
  • NK cell count compared and correlated from both tests

Found a significant decrease in the number of NK cells. Particularly low for students who repored loneliness, depression, anxiety.

Suggest short term predictable stressors can reduce immune system funtioning

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Stress and the Immune System Research

by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser

Study 2

To demonstrate the effects of tress on the immune system by seeing how quickly wounds would heal in a group of stressed women compared to the group non-stressed women

  • 26 women recruited through a newspaper ad
  • matched into groups of 1) carers of a dementia patient and 2) non-carers.
  • matched in terms of age and income group
  • all participants given a punch biopsy (small cut) just below the elbow
  • filled in self report stress scale
  • researches noted how long it took for the wound to heal

Wounds took, on average, 9 days longer to heal in the carer group. This group had the highest scores on the sef-report stress scale.

Findings support the theory that chronic stress weakens immune system.

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Stress and the Immune System Research

by Cohen et all

  • gave participants nose drops which contained the cold virus
  • each participant was given a stress score based on major life events and how out of control they felt
  • participants with high stress scores were two times mroe likely to develop colds
  • suggests a link between stress, immune system and illness

by Segestrom and Miller, 2004

  • meta-analysis of 293 studies from past 30 years
  • found that short-term acute stressors can boost the immune system
  • found that long-term chronic stressors can lead to the supression of immune system
  • foudn that the longer the stressor the more likely the helpful, adaptive changes were to change to possibly harmful effects 
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Life Changes and Stress

by Rahe, 1970

To see if there was a correlation between life chanfes and illness using the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)

  • 2500 male US sailors were asked to complete the SRRS prior a 6-month tour of duty on sea
  • during the 6 months records were kept of the health of each sailor, from which they were given an illness score

At the end, the illness score was compared to the SRRS score. The higher the SRRS score, the highter the illness score; positive correlation of +0.118 was found. 

Small but significant correlation, due to the number of participants. Indicated that experiencing more life changes increases the chance of stress related health problems.

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Daily Hassles and Stress

by De Longis et al, 1982

  • studied effects of daily hassles
  • 100 paricipants, aged 45-64, who completed questionnaires relating to daily hassles and life events each month for a year
  • both frequency and intensity of hassles were significantly correlated with health
  • no correlation between life events during the year, but there had been for the two or three years prior to the study

by Bouteyre et al, 2007

  • investigated relationship betwwen dailly hassles and depression in 1st year Psychology students in France
  • asked to complete the HSUP and depression scale
  • 41% students suffered depressive symptoms and there was a positive correlation between hassles and the depressive symptoms
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Daily Hassles and Stress

by Gervais, 2005

  • asked nurses to keep a diary of their hassles and uplifts at work for a month
  • also asked to rate their work performance over the month
  • hassles were found to increase job strain and decrease performance
  • uplifts counteracted the negative effects of the hassles and improved self-rated performance o nthe job
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Workplace Stress

by Marmot, 1997  'Civil Servant Study'

To test the job-strain model. The model proposes that the workplace creaes stress and illness in 2 ways: high workload and low control

  • 7,372 civil servants in london answered a questionnaire on workload, job control and the amount of social support; they were also checked for signs of cardiovascular disease and coronary risk factors e.g. smoking
  • workers divided into high and low grades
  • high grade workers experienced a higher workload, whereas low grade workers experienced less job control and were reassessed after 5 years

High grade workers with high workload and control developed fewest cardiovascular problems. Low-grade workers had less job control and sufferef from most cardiovascular problems. Lower grade workers also experienced poorest social support.

Cardiovascular disease could partly explained in terms of risk factors, like smoking or being overweight.

Lower control -> higher stress and cardivascular disorder levels. High workload not linked to those.

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Workplace Stress

by Johansson 1978, 'Swedish Sawmill Study'

To investigate whether workload increases the risk of stress-related illness

  • comapred two groups of workers:
  • 14 finishers: machine paced, repetitive, skilled -> high workload (demands) and responsibility
  • 10 cleaners: self-paced, varied, unskilled -> less responsibility, lower workload, some control
  • levels of stress hormoneadrenaline were measured in urine of the workers and records were kept of illness/absenteeism

Finishes secreted higher leves of stress hormones. These levels were higher on work days. Finishers also recorded higher levels of sress related illness and absenteeism.

A combination of work stressors such as repetitive, machine paced work which leads to high responsibility and workload can lead to increased risk of stress related illness

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Workplace Stress

by Kivimaki, 2006

Meta anlysis of 14 studies (including Marmot) looking at the effect of coronary heard disease in relation to work stress

  • 83,000 emplyees were included from across Europe, Japan and the US
  • discovered that those employees which high levels of job strain (low control, high demands) were 50% more likely to develop coronary heart disease
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Personality Types and Stress

by Friedman and Rosenman, 1974

To test the hypothesis that Type A individuals are more likely to develop coronary heart disease than Type B individuals

  • 3200 healthy young man aged 39-59 were assessed on their personality type
  • this was done my means of a structured interview, using two kinds of information
  • 1) answers given to interview questions e.g. how they react to queueing, deadlines at work 
  • 2) their behaviour durign the interview e.g., way of speaking (loudness or speed). Also the individual's tendencies towards imatience and hostility were assessed by the interviewer deliberately iterrupting from time to time

Personalities categorised as either A, B, or X -- a balance betwwn the two. All free fro mcoronary disease. Sample was follwed up 8.5 years later

70% of the coronary heart disease sufferes were Type A individuals. This assosication remained significant even when risk factots like smoking were taken into account. Corelation established.

Type A was found to be an independent risk factor work heart disease.

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Personality Types and Stress

by Myrtek

Carried out a meta-analysis of studies and found that there was only one characteristic of type A behaviour that could be linked to heart disease - anger

by Bartone, 1991

  • studied US suldiers in the first Gulf War
  • the higher the hardiness score, the greater the likelihood the soldier would be able to ddeal with combat-related illness without having negative effects on health such as post-traumatic stress disorder
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