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Infectious Diseases


Aiello, Allison E.; Simanek, Amanda M.; Stebbins, Rebecca C.; & Dowd, Jennifer Beam (2018). Infectious Diseases.. Kivimaki, Mika; Batty, G. David; Steptoe, Andrew; & Kawachi, Ichiro (Eds.) (pp. 281-300). New York: Routledge.


Links between psychosocial stressors and poor health have persisted across both geography and time (Adler & Stewart, 2010; Duffy, 1992; Link & Phelan, 1995; Rosen, 1975). A potential early example of the influence of psychosocial stressors on infectious diseases was published in the medical literature of the nineteenth century (Bright Medical Journal, 1884). In this report, funeral attendees were reported to have a higher risk of 'catching a cold' and the 'chill' -- and while the report ascribed the infectious symptoms to leaving one's head uncovered at a funeral, it is possible that mourners became ill because they were at greater risk of infection and poorer health caused by stress related to the bereavement process (British Medical Journal, 1884; Dorian and Garfinkel, 1987; Phillips et al., 2006). Public health figures at the time, known as 'sanitarians', such as Edwin Chadwick and Florence Nightingale, described the link between individuals living in poverty and increased infectious disease morbidity and mortality compared to their more wealthy counterparts (Chadwick, 1842; Duffy, 1992; Monteiro, 1985). Friedrich Engels, in his book entitled The condition of the working class in England, published in the mid-1800s, argued that poverty was a main factor influencing the health and well-being of the working poor, who at the time were suffering a disproportionate burden of infectious diseases (Engels, 1993).

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Aiello, Allison E.
Simanek, Amanda M.
Stebbins, Rebecca C.
Dowd, Jennifer Beam