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Psychoneuroimmunology in children : The interaction between psychosocial stress, the immune system and the association with psychopathology

Homan, L. (2020) Psychoneuroimmunology in children : The interaction between psychosocial stress, the immune system and the association with psychopathology.

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Abstract:Introduction. Psychoneuroimmunology is the science that focuses on the interaction between psychology, the immune system and neurology. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that the experience of psychosocial stress caused medical and mental health problems in adult samples. Much less research has examined whether the same problems arise in children samples. This review evaluates what psychopathological symptoms were found due to the influence of psychosocial stress on the immune system of children, the sort of scientific designs that were used, which limitations are being mentioned by other researchers, the different age groups that were studied and what is important for future research. Method. A scoping review of the literature was performed. Articles were obtained via Scopus, PubMed and PsycINFO. By using the PRISMA method, 12 studies were found and thoroughly analysed. Results. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, early-onset psychosis and autism correlated with the influence of psychosocial stress on the immune system of children. Most studies have performed a cross-sectional design, while some studies performed a longitudinal study. Possible limitations of the current studies were using a cross-sectional study design, measuring psychosocial stress by taking solely venous blood samples, not including other biomarkers of the immune system for measuring inflammatory responses. Adolescents (12-18 years) and school-aged children (4-12 years) were studied more frequently than infants (0-1 year). No studies were found of children of 1-4 years. Recommendations for future research are setting up longitudinal study designs and work out theoretic models of psychoneuroimmunology. Discussion. The most important findings of this research are that more longitudinal research is needed, more possibilities to measure psychosocial stress in children, more knowledge of the different biomarkers in the immune system and keeping track of possible changes in different age groups of children. In addition, an overlap of the most common limitations of the included studies is discovered, what can be helpful for future researchers to expand our current knowledge of psychoneuroimmunology in children.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/81534
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