The Pittsburgh Common Cold Studies: Psychosocial predictors of susceptibility to respiratory infectious illness. [Keynote Presentation at the 8th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine; Mainz, Germany, August 25-28, 2004]
Date of Original Version
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 2005, Vol. 12, No. 3, 123–131 Copyright © 2005 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Abstract or Table of Contents
This article provides a selected overview of 20 years of research on the role of psychosocial factors in susceptibility to upper respiratory infections. We present evi- dence from our laboratory that psychological stress is associated with increased risk for developing respiratory illness for persons intentionally exposed to a common cold virus, that the longer the duration of the stressor the greater the risk, and that stress association with susceptibility may be mediated by stress-induced disruption of the regulation of proinflammatory cytokines. We further provide evidence that social re- lationships (social integration and social support) are also associated with risk for re- spiratory illness: Social integration is associated with reduced risk irrespective of stress level and social support protects persons from the pathogenic influences of stress. Finally, we report recent evidence that lower levels of early childhood socio- economic status (SES) are associated with greater risk of viral-induced illness during adulthood, independent of adult SES.