Background. Perception of deficiencies in immunity are
common in a number of patient complaints.
However, little is known about the way in which individuals form perceptions
about the competence
of their immune system. In two studies we examined the relationship between
of their immune functioning, physical symptoms, mood and measures of immunity.
Methods. In Study 1, 20 healthy volunteers completed global
ratings of their immune system
functioning, as well as mood and symptom reports, twice a week for 5 weeks.
At the same time,
blood samples were taken to assess serum IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies.
In Study 2, another sample
of 58 subjects completed the same measures weekly for 5 weeks and their
blood was tested for
concentrations of CD3, CD4, CD8, and CD16 lymphocytes.
Results. We found perceptions of immune functioning to be unrelated
to the concentrations of
serum antibodies or blood lymphocytes. Immune perceptions were strongly
related to mood and in
particular, feelings of fatigue and vigour. The experience of recent physical
symptoms, while not as
strong as mood variables, was also important in perceptions of immune functioning.
Conclusions. Mood seems to be an important determinant in the
perception of immune function,
and complaints about immune dysfunction in clinical situation should be
investigated with this
possibility in mind.