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Title: An exploration of the relationship between psychosocial stressors and the immune response in humans
Author: Bamber, Martin Roy
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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The present study reviewed the literature supporting the "psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)" paradigm and aimed to test empirically the hypothesis that psychosocial variables can influence the workings of the immune system. The measure of immune response used was the subjects' blood antibody titre response to a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations (dependent variable) and a comprehensive range of psychosocial variables were used as the independent variables. The results indicated that 'hyper-reactivity' (the interaction of anxiety and somatic symptoms of stress) was associated with raised blood antibody levels, whereas 'hypo-reactivity' (the interactions of depression and emotional exhaustion) was associated with lowered blood antibody levels. The results of a stepwise multiple regression analysis found that these two interactions together with 'perceived control' (manageability subscale of the Sense of Coherence Questionnaire) jointly predicted 26% of the variance in blood antibody titre scores. Independently, hypo-reactivity accounted for 11%, hyper-reactivity 8% and perceived control 7% of the variance accordingly (p<0.0005). Hypo-reactivity was also found to be predictive of sickness absence over a one year period, accounting for 6.5% of the variance in sickness absence (p<0.05). The results also suggest that Personality and Coping Style act as moderating variables between life events and emotional distress. A 'two stage' model of the relationship between psychosocial stress and the immune response to Hepatitis B vaccine is proposed, which emphasises 'perceived controllability over life events' as a central factor in the type and severity of emotional distress experienced and ultimately effects on the immune system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available