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Objective and Subjective Socioeconomic Status and Susceptibility to the Common Cold

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posted on 2008-03-01, 00:00 authored by Sheldon CohenSheldon Cohen, Cuneyt Alper, Nancy Adler, John J Treanor, Ronald B Turner
Objective: We ask whether subjective socioeconomic status (SES) predicts who develops a common cold when exposed to a cold virus. Design: 193 healthy men and women ages 21-55 years were assessed for subjective (perceived rank) and objective SES, cognitive, affective and social dispositions, and health practices. Subsequently, they were exposed by nasal drops to a rhinovirus or influenza virus and monitored in quarantine for objective signs of illness and self-reported symptoms. Main Outcome Measures: Infection, signs and symptoms of the common cold, and clinical illness (infection and significant objective signs of illness). Results: Increased subjective SES was associated with decreased risk for developing a cold for both viruses. This association was independent of objective SES and of cognitive, affective and social disposition that might provide alternative spurious (third factor) expla- nations for the association. Poorer sleep among those with lesser subjective SES may partly mediate the association between subjective SES and colds. Conclusions: Increased Subjective SES is associated with less susceptibility to upper respiratory infection, and this association is independent of objective SES, suggesting the importance of perceived relative rank to health.

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2008-03-01

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