Personality characteristics in chronic and non-chronic allergic conditions.Brain Behav Immun. 2008 Jul; 22(5):762-8.BB
In psycho-allergological research, the potential relevance of personality factors in the maintenance and exacerbation of atopic symptoms is still a matter of debate. The present study aimed to assess personality dimensions in chronic atopic disease, i.e. atopic dermatitis (AD) and in acute manifestation of atopy (seasonal allergic rhinitis, SAR). Further, the association of a potentially atopy-specific personality profile with atopy-relevant biological stress responses should be evaluated. Subjects suffering from AD (n=36), or SAR (n=20) and non-atopic controls (n=37) were investigated. To determine different personality domains, Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Questionnaire for Competence and Control (FKK) and the Questionnaire for Stress Vulnerability (MESA) were administered. To assess the relation between these personality dimensions and biological stress responses, atopics and non-atopic controls were exposed to a standardized laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test, TSST). Endocrine (cortisol, ACTH), immune (total IgE, leukocyte subsets) and physiological (heart rates) measures were recorded before and after the stress test. When compared to healthy controls, AD and SAR patients showed significantly higher trait anxiety (STAI) and stress vulnerability in situations characterized by failure, job overload and social conflicts (MESA). Moreover, AD subjects scored significantly lower in self-competence and self-efficacy (FKK) as well as in recreation ability (MESA). No difference trait anxiety and stress vulnerability could be detected between AD and SAR subjects. Pearson correlational analyses yielded no significant correlation between the different personality domains and the endocrine, physiological and immunological stress responses. However, stress-induced increase in eosinophil number was significantly correlated with the perceived self-competence/self-efficacy in SAR patients.