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Chronic stressors increased susceptibility to colds

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Question What is the relation between acute and chronic life stressors and susceptibility to the common cold?


Cohort study in which participants were given a low infectious dose of rhinovirus (type RV39 or Hanks) and quarantined for 1 day before and 5 days after exposure.


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


276 people (55% women, 81% white) aged 18–55 years who responded to a newspaper advertisement and were free of disease (based on examination and laboratory testing). Exclusion criteria were pregnancy, currently lactating, or on regular medication.

Assessment of risk factors

Acute and chronic life stressors based on scores from the Bedford College Life Events and Difficulties Schedule. Acute events lasted <1 month and were a marked or moderate long term threat (eg, getting reprimanded at work). Chronic stressors lasted …

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  • Sources of funding: National Institute of Mental Health; National Institutes of Health; Fetzer Institute; John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.

  • For correspondence: Dr S Cohen, Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. Fax +1 412 268 3294.