Psychological interventions and the immune system: A meta-analytic review and critique

Gregory E. Miller*, Sheldon Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article reviews evidence for the hypothesis that psychological interventions can modulate the immune response in humans and presents a series of models depicting the psychobiological pathways through which this might occur. Although more than 85 trials have been conducted, meta-analyses reveal only modest evidence that interventions can reliably alter immune parameters. The most consistent evidence emerges from hypnosis and conditioning trials. Disclosure and stress management show scattered evidence of success. Relaxation demonstrates little capacity to elicit immune change. Although these data provide only modest evidence of successful immune modulation, it would be premature to conclude that the immune system is unresponsive to psychological interventions. This literature has important conceptual and methodological issues that need to be resolved before any definitive conclusions can be reached.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-63
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

Keywords

  • Immune function
  • Psychological intervention
  • Psychological stress
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Stress management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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