Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 517–529 | Cite as

The reliability and validity of a structured interview for the assessment of infectious illness symptoms

  • Karen Orts
  • John F. Sheridan
  • Susan Robinson-Whelen
  • Ronald Glaser
  • William B. Malarkey
  • Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser


Respiratory infections are the leading cause of morbidity in community populations. We developed a structured interview based on the Health Review (Roseet al., Psychosom. Med. 40: 142–165, 1978) to provide a simple method for periodic assessment of infectious illness, particularly upper respiratory infections. Congruence between interview data and physician diagnoses demonstrated excellent agreement regarding the presence or absence of an infection. Subjects who showed a clinically significant increase in antibody titers to an influenza virus vaccine reported fewer than half as many respiratory infections in the subsequent year as subjects who did not show a significant response. Interrater and test-retest reliabilities were satisfactory. These data support the reliability and validity of this method of assessing infectious illnesses.

Key Words

infectious illness assessment reliability validity 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beyer, W. E. P., Palache, A. M., Baljet, M., and Masurel, N. (1989). Antibody induction by influenza vaccines in the elderly: A review of the literature.Vaccine 7: 385–394.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bradburn, N. M., Rips, L. J., and Shevell, S. K. (1987). Answering autobiographical questions: The impact of memory and inference on surveys.Science 236: 157–161.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Burns, E. A., and Goodwin, J. S. (1990). Immunology and infectious disease. In Cassell, C. K., Risenberg, D. E., Sorensen, C. B., and Walsh, J. R. (eds.),Geriatr. Med., Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 312–329.Google Scholar
  4. Cohen, J. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales.Educ. Psych. Measure. 20: 37–46.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, S., Tyrell, D. A. J., and Smith, A. P. (1991). Psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold.N. Engl. J. Med. 325: 606–612.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Frank, S., Zyzanski, S., and Akemagno, S. (1992). Upper respiratory infection: Stress, support, and the medical encounter.Family Med. 24: 518–523.Google Scholar
  7. Glaser, R., and Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (1994).Handbook of Human Stress and Immunity, Academic Press, San Diego.Google Scholar
  8. Glaser, R., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Bonneau, R., Malarkey, W., and Hughes, J. (1992). Stress-induced modulation of the immune response to recombinant hepatitis B vaccine.Psychosom. Med. 54: 22–29.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Grove, W. M., Andreasen, N. C., McDonald-Scott, P., Keller, M. B., and Shapiro, R. W. (1981). Reliability studies of psychiatric diagnosis: Theory and practice.Arch. Gen. Psychiat. 38: 408–413.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Hobson, D., Curry, R. L., and Beare, A. S. (1972). Hemagglutination-inhibiting antibody titre as a measure of protection against influenza in man. In Perkins, F. T., and Reganey, R. H. (eds.).International Symposium on Influenza Vaccines for Men and Horses, Karger Basel, New York, pp. 164–168.Google Scholar
  11. Jabaaij, P. M., Grosheide, R. A., Heijtink, R. A., Duivenvoorden, H. J., Ballieux, R. E., and Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (1993). Influence of perceived psychological stress and distress of antibody response to low dose rDNA hepatitis B vaccine.J. Psychosom. Res. 37: 361–369.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Jenkins, C. D., Krueger, B. E., Rose, R. M., and Hurst, M. W. (1980). Use of a monthly health review to ascertain illness and injuries.Am. J. Public Health 70: 82–84.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., and Glaser, R. (1995). Psychoneuroimmunology and health consequences: Data and shared mechanisms.Psychosom. Med. 57: 269–274.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Dura, J. R., Speicher, C. E., Trask, O. J., and Glaser, R. (1991). Spousal caregivers of dementia victims: Longitudinal changes in immunity and health.Psychosom. Med. 53: 345–362.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Levine, M., Beattie, B. L., McLean, D. M., and Corman, D. (1987). Characterization of the immune response to trivalent influenza vaccine in elderly men.J. Gerontol. Soc. 35: 609–615.Google Scholar
  16. Maddox, G. L., and Douglass, E. B. (1973). Self-assessment of health: A longitudinal study of elderly subjects.J. Health Soc. Behav. 14: 87–93.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. McElhaney, J. E., Beattie, B. L., Devine, R., Grynock, R., Toth, E. L., and Bleackley, R. C. (1990). Age-related decline in interleukin 2 production in response to influenza vaccine.J. Am. Geriat. Soc. 38: 652–658.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Mechanic, D. (1980). The experience and reporting of common physical complaints.J. Health Soc. Behav. 21: 146–155.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Ochs, H. D., Junker, A. K., Collier, A. C., Virant, F. S., Hunter, H. H., and Wedgewood, R. J. (1988). Abnormal antibody responses in patients with persistent generalized lymphadenopathy.J. Clin. Immunol. 8: 57–83.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Phair, J., Kauffman, C. A., Bjornsen, A., Adams, L., and Linneman, C. (1978). Failure to respond to influenza vaccine in the aged: Correlation with B-cell number and function.J. Lab. Clin. Med. 92: 822–828.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Pio, A. J., Leowski, J., and ten Dam, H. G. (1985). The magnitude of the problems of acute respiratory infections. In Douglas, R. M., and Kerby-Eaton, E. (eds.),Acute Respiratory Infections in Childhood, Steering Committee, Acute Respiratory Infections in Childhood Workshop, Adelaide Australia, pp. 3–16.Google Scholar
  22. Rose, R. M., Jenkins, C. D., and Hurst, M. W. (1978). Health change in air traffic controllers: A prospective study. I. Background and description.Psychosom. Med. 40: 142–165.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Sanders, L. A., Rijkers, G. T., Kuis, W., Tenbergen-Meekers, A. J., deGraeff-Meeder, B. R., Hiemstra, I., and Zegers, B. J. (1993). Defective antipneumococcal polysaccharide antibody response in children with recurrent respiratory tract infections.J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 91: 110–119.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Schmitt, N. W., and Colligan, M. J. (1984). Lack of stress-health relationships: A base rate problem?J. Comm. Psychol. 12: 245–252.Google Scholar
  25. Sheridan, J. F., Feng, N., Bonneau, R. H., Allen, C. M., Huneycutt, B. S., and Glaser, R. (1991). Restraint stress differentially affects anti-viral cellular and humoral immune responses in mice.J. Neuroimmunol. 31: 245–255.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Solomon, G. F. (1969). Stress and antibody response in rats.Int. Arch. Allergy 35: 97–104.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Stone, A. A., Neale, J. M., Cox, D. S., Napoli, A., Valdimarsdottir, H., and Kennedy-Moore, E. (1994). Daily events are associated with a secretory immune response to an oral antigen in men.Health Psychol. 13: 440–446.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Yoshikawa, T. T. (1983). Geriatric infectious diseases: An emerging problem.J. Am. Geriat. Soc. 31: 34–39.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Orts
    • 1
  • John F. Sheridan
    • 2
  • Susan Robinson-Whelen
    • 1
  • Ronald Glaser
    • 3
  • William B. Malarkey
    • 4
  • Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryOhio State University College of MedicineColumbus
  2. 2.Department of Oral BiologyOhio State University College of DentistryColumbus
  3. 3.Department of Medical Microbiology and ImmunologyOhio State University College of MedicineColumbus
  4. 4.Department of MedicineOhio State University College of MedicineColumbus

Personalised recommendations