Aug 29, 1991

Psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold

The New England Journal of Medicine
S CohenA P Smith

Abstract

It is not known whether psychological stress suppresses host resistance to infection. To investigate this issue, we prospectively studied the relation between psychological stress and the frequency of documented clinical colds among subjects intentionally exposed to respiratory viruses. After completing questionnaires assessing degrees of psychological stress, 394 healthy subjects were given nasal drops containing one of five respiratory viruses (rhinovirus type 2, 9, or 14, respiratory syncytial virus, or coronavirus type 229E), and an additional 26 were given saline nasal drops. The subjects were then quarantined and monitored for the development of evidence of infection and symptoms. Clinical colds were defined as clinical symptoms in the presence of an infection verified by the isolation of virus or by an increase in the virus-specific antibody titer. The rates of both respiratory infection (P less than 0.005) and clinical colds (P less than 0.02) increased in a dose-response manner with increases in the degree of psychological stress. Infection rates ranged from approximately 74 percent to approximately 90 percent, according to levels of psychological stress, and the incidence of clinical colds ranged from approximately 27...Continue Reading

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  • Citations530

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Antibodies, Viral
Psychosexual Disorders
Paramyxoviridae Infections
Mental Suffering
Differential White Blood Cell Count Procedure
Disease Susceptibility
Gamma globulin
Respiratory Tract Infections
Coryza Viruses
Coronaviridae Infections

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