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The Common Cold Project [electronic resource]: 5 Studies of Behavior, Biology, and the Common Cold

Sheldon Cohen
Computer Resource; Online
Ann Arbor, Mich. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor] 2016
ICPSR (Series)
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AVAILABLE. This study is freely available to ICPSR member institutions.

The Common Cold Project began in 2011 with the aim of creating, documenting, and archiving a database that combines final research data from 5 prospective viral-challenge studies that were conducted over the preceding 25 years. The data collection includes the British Cold Study (BCS), which focused on psychological stress; the Pittsburgh Cold Study 1 (PCS1), which built on the BCS; the Pittsburgh Cold Study 2 (PCS2), which examined childhood socioeconomic status and personality; the Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center Cold Study (PMBC), which recorded detailed mood and behavior data over 14 days; the Pittsburgh Cold Study 3, which focused on childhood environment; the Pittsburg Cold Study 3 Social Rhythm Data (PCS3-SRM), which recorded daily interview data of mood, health behavior, and social interaction; and finally the 5 Study Aggregate, which was designed to facilitate analysis across studies. These studies assessed predictor (and hypothesized mediating) variables in healthy adults aged 18 to 55 years, experimentally exposed them to a virus that causes the common cold, and then monitored them for development of infection and signs and symptoms of illness. Standard control variables (covariates) included age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), season of the year, and specific antibody (Ab) titer to the challenge virus (specific immunity). Three of the studies also include daily evening interviews (conducted for 6 or 14 days before exposure to a virus and assessing daily social interactions, mood, health behaviors, and physical symptoms; and daily diaries collected during the quarantine period (1 day before and 5-6 days after viral exposure), including cold-specific and nonspecific symptoms, mood, and health behaviors. These data accompany datasets four, five, and seven.

Many common variables were collected across 2 or more studies, and all 5 studies include measures of upper respiratory infectious illness (URI) (e.g., infection, signs and symptoms of a cold, local [nasal mucosa] release of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines). Data were also collected on a broad assortment of health-related outcomes not specific to URI including anthropomorphic measures (such as body mass index and waist circumference), complete blood cell counts and differentials, measures of functional immunity, self-reported and objectively assessed health behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, diet, and sleep), measures of functional physiology across several biological systems (such as pulmonary function, resting cardiovascular function, endocrine, and metabolic activity), and self-reported assessments of physical and psychological health and well-being. In addition, the 5 studies collected data on an extensive range of demographic, health behavior, psychological and social variables including adult SES and subjective social standing, childhood SES, major stressful life events and perceived stress, personality, psychological expectations and beliefs, social relationships, and state and trait affect.

  • British Cold Study
  • Pittsburgh Cold Study 1
  • Pittsburgh Cold Study 2
  • Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center Cold Study
  • Pittsburgh Cold Study 3
  • Pittsburgh Cold Study 3 - Social Rhythm Data
  • 5-Study Aggregate
Mode of access: Intranet.
Title from ICPSR DDI metadata of 2016-09-03.
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ICPSR 36365
ICPSR (Series) 36365
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