Why I study...the psychology of the common cold

Andy Smith
MY interest in the psychology of the common cold was triggered in 1982 over lunch with Donald Broadbent and David Tyrrell, then Director of the MRC Common Cold Unit in Salisbury. I was already interested in factors influencing performance efficiency, because of my earlier work with Donald. I was also developing an interest in stress and health. Over lunch, it became apparent that studying experimentally induced colds would be a most appropriate way of combining these two areas. Illnesses such as the common cold are ideal for studying these issues in that they are frequent, widespread and can be experimentally induced. Although they are classified as minor illnesses, they have a large impact on the health services, absence from work and education, and on quality of life. So it is clearly important to understand the role of psychological factors in susceptibility to, and the pathogenesis of, such illnesses.

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