4 Psychoneuroimmunology: Mechanisms, Individual Differences, and Interventions

Health Psychology


  1. Jeffrey R. Stowell PhD1,
  2. Theodore F. Robles PhD2,
  3. Heidi S. Kane PhD3

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop209004

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Stowell, J. R., Robles, T. F. and Kane, H. S. 2012. Psychoneuroimmunology: Mechanisms, Individual Differences, and Interventions. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 9:II:4.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Eastern Illinois University, Department of Psychology, Charleston, Illinois, USA

  2. 2

    University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Psychology, Los Angeles, California, USA

  3. 3

    University of California, Los Angeles, Psychology Department, Los Angeles, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Researchers in the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) study the intricate multifaceted relationship between changes in the nervous system that accompany psychological states and corresponding changes in immune system function, in the context of health and disease. This chapter outlines the physiological basis for the bidirectional relationships between the nervous and immune systems, noting the advancement in the knowledge of how the autonomic system plays a supervisory role in monitoring activity of the immune system. Naturalistic stressors and those created in laboratory settings provide useful models for studying both the acute and chronic influences of psychological states (e.g., stress) on immune function. Furthermore, individual differences in mood and coping strategies may moderate these stress-immune relationships. These individual differences occur within a broader context of social relationships, which provide benefits or impairments in immune function and health. Research on social integration, social support, loneliness, and marriage reveals the importance of the connection between interpersonal relationships and health. Finally, intervention strategies aimed at reducing psychological distress provide hope for individuals suffering from immune-related diseases, including those with cancer and HIV.


  • health psychology;
  • immune system;
  • stress;
  • social relationships