Despite widespread public belief that psychological stress leads to disease, the biomedical community remains skeptical of this conclusion. In this Commentary, we discuss the plausibility of the belief that stress contributes to a variety of disease processes and summarize the role of stress in 4 major diseases: clinical depression, cardiovascular disease (CVD), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS, and cancer.
Corresponding Author: Sheldon Cohen, PhD, Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Financial Disclosures: Dr Cohen reported consulting for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc on issues of stress measurement. None of the other authors reported any financial disclosures.
Role of the Sponsor: This article is based on a paper commissioned by the Institute of Medicine Committee on Psychosocial Services to Cancer Patients and Families in Community Settings. The Institute of Medicine suggested the topic but played no role in structuring the paper; in the collection, management, and interpretation of the data; or the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.
Additional Contributions: We thank David Krantz, PhD (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences), Margaret Kemeny, PhD (School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco), Stephen Manuck, PhD, and Karen Matthews, PhD (University of Pittsburgh), and Scott Monroe, PhD (Notre Dame University), for their comments on an earlier draft; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health and members of the Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center (HL65111, HL65112) for their intellectual support; and Ellen Conser, MA, Ashleigh Molz, and Wesley Barnhart, BS (Carnegie Mellon University), for assistance in preparing the manuscript. None of these individuals received any extra compensation for their contributions.