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Korean Journal of Preventive Medicine 2002;35(4): 287-294.
The Effect of Social Support on Chronic Stress and Immune System in Male Manufacturing Workers.
Sei Jin Chang, Sang Baek Koh, Jong Ku Park, Bong Suk Cha
1Department of Preventive Medicine and Institute of Occupational Medicine, Yonsei Universtiy Wonju College of Medicine, Korea. chang@wonju.yonsei.ac.kr
2Department of Occupational Health, Suncheon Hospital, Korea.
OBJECTIVES: To examine whether cumulative chronic stress influences the immune status, and to verify the effect of social support on the relationship between these two dimensions in male manufacturing workers. METHODS: A total of 39 workers were recruited for this study. A structured-questionnaire was used to assess general characteristics, job characteristics (work demand and decision latitude), psychosocial distress, and social support. The serum levels of CD4 and CD8 were measured as immune markers, and were collected between 8:00 and 10:00am in order to standardize the markers. Nonparametric statistics were used to estimate the differences between job characteristics and the immune markers. RESUJLTS: General characteristics, and health-related behaviors, were not associated with CD4, CD8 or CD4/CD8. No relationships were found between job characteristics and the mean levels of immune reactivity. These results were consistent, even after controlling for social support. Social support failed to modify the relationship toward work demand, decision latitude or psychosocial distress to CD4, CD8, and CD4/CD8. CONCLUSION: Cumulative chronic life stress might not influence the immune status, and the effects of social support on the immune function under chronic stress, may not play a crucial role in modifying the relationships. This implication supports that the effect of stress on the immune function may be determined by the characteristics of that stress. Further research should effectively considers the type, magnitude and timing of a stress event, and modifiable factors, such as personality traits, coping style, and hormone excretion levels, on the alteration of immune status.
Key words: Social support; Life stress; Job characteristics; Immune system
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