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Common Cold: The Stress Factor

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Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Synonyms

Upper respiratory infection (mild): the stress factor

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One of the most consistent findings from viral challenge studies (see Common Cold) is that the experience of stress is positively associated with susceptibility to the common cold. Here stress is defined as a psychological state resulting from outside factors or events placing demands on an individual that exceed his or her resources or ability to cope (Cohen, Kessler, & Gordon, 1995). Although stressful experiences such as bereavement and care giving have long been believed to suppress host resistance, the common cold studies were the first to demonstrate the role of the stress factor under prospective, controlled conditions.

Cohen, Tyrrell, and Smith (1991) conducted one of the first studies to explore the role of stress in susceptibility to the common cold. The authors assessed several stress factors, including life events and perceived stress in a sample of healthy adults, and then experimentally exposed...

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References and Readings

  • Cohen, S., Kessler, R. C., & Underwood Gordon, L. (Eds.) (1995). Measuring stress: A guide for health and social scientists. New York: Oxford. Strategies for measuring stress in studies of psychiatric and physical disorders.

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  • Cohen, S., Doyle, W. J., & Skoner, D. P. (1999). Psychological stress, cytokine production, and severity of upper respiratory illness. Psychosomatic Medicine, 61, 175–180.

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  • Cohen, S., Frank, E., Doyle, W. J., Skoner, D. P., Rabin, B. S., & Gwaltney, J. M. (1998). Types of stressors that increase susceptibility to the common cold in healthy adults. Health Psychology, 17(3), 214–223.

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  • Cohen, S., Tyrrell, D. A. J., & Smith, A. P. (1991). Psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold. The New England Journal of Medicine, 325, 606–612.

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  • Cohen, S., Tyrrell, D. A. J., & Smith, A. P. (1993). Life events, perceived stress, negative affect and susceptibility to the common cold. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 131–140.

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  • Marsland, A. L., Bachen, E. A., Cohen, S., Rabin, B., & Manuck, S. B. (2002). Stress, immune reactivity and susceptibility to infectious disease. Physiology and Behavior, 77, 711–716.

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Correspondence to Denise Janicki-Deverts .

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Janicki-Deverts, D., Crittenden, C.N. (2013). Common Cold: The Stress Factor. In: Gellman, M.D., Turner, J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_796

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_796

  • Publisher Name: Springer, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4419-1004-2

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