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Stressand the immune system: (Kiecolt-Klaser et al, 1984)

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Introduction

Stress and the immune system: (Kiecolt-Klaser et al, 1984) AIM: to study the effect of stress (exams) on the immune system. They wanted to test the hypothesis that stress reduces immunity by seeing if there is a difference in immune response between two conditions (high and low stress). They were also interested to see if other factors affected immunity, such as psychiatric symptoms, loneliness, and life events. PROCEDURES: * 75 first year medical students (self-selected sample) volunteered to participate. ...read more.

Middle

* Questionnaires were also used to assess 3 areas of behavioural functioning: any psychiatric symptoms, degree of loneliness, exposure to life events FINDINGS: * The number of natural killer cells had significantly declined in the stress sample * The reduced immune response was most strongly associated with students who reported the most stress e.g. those who felt the most lonely, those who experienced stressful life events or who suffered from psychiatric symptoms like depression and anxiety CONCLUSIONS: * The decline in natural killer cells in humans supports the earlier animal studies showing that stress suppresses the immune response * Immunosuppression was strongest when there were additional sources of stress * The study shows that various sources of stress (eg. ...read more.

Conclusion

was not deliberately altered. Uncontrolled factors could have caused the differences, such as individual differences in immune functioning, diet, lifestyle, personality type etc. At best, the results have suggested an association (a negative correlation) between stress and immune suppression. * The measure of immune function (number of natural killer cells and T cells) is an objective measurement that cannot be biased in a subjective way (eg. opinion) by the investigator. Neither can immune response be biased by experimenter expectancy. These factors increase the validity of the measures, although there still may be other kinds of bias eg. the confounding variables due to individual differences. ...read more.

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