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Allergies and Psychosocial Factors – International Press Reports on Study of Environmental Medicine at UNIKA-T

Press Information


KORA studies have been conducted since years in Augsburg. KORA is the abbreviation for “Cooperative Health Research in the Augsburg Region”. These studies provide scientists with data on the health status of the study participants. The data stems either from questionnaires or from clinical tests. Katharina Harter, MPH, is a doctoral student at UNIKA-T. Together with a team of scientists, Harter studied the data in regards to associations between psychic and social factor with allergies. The results show that psychosocial factors are associated with the respective type of allergy. The study results have been published in the journal “International Archives of Allergy and Immunology” under the title „Different Psychosocial Factors are Associated with Seasonal and Perennial Allergies in Adults - Cross-Sectional Results of the KORA FF4 Study“.

The central results of the study are:

  • People with seasonal allergien suffer more often from an anxiety disorder.
  • People with perennial allergies suffer more often from depressions.

Grafik PM Psychosoziale Faktoren

(Click on the graph above to see it in an enlarged view.)

The study results are of special relevance due to the rarely answered but important research question about the association between psychosocial factors and the development of allergic diseases.

The significance of the study for research has been proven by the numerous citation of the study results by the international press and science media over several months, which is exemplary illustrated in the following overview on press releases on the study:

Duration of Symptoms Instead of Individual Disease Status – Holistic Cause Study in Allergies

The study includes a special method by means of classifying allergies into seasonal types (caused by pollen and aeroallergens), perennial (i. e. full year allergies; caused by animal fur or house dust mites), and other types of allergy (nutrition, medical products). Thus the object of study has no longer been the disease type such as asthma or hay fever, but the duration of symptoms and the possible allergy cause. The results are of notable use for allergy research.
The associations between the psyche and allergic diseases have been formerly discussed, but its complexity has not yet been fully understood. For the future allergy research, Professor Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann considers it a task to study the molecular mechanisms between biological and psychosocial factors for a holistic explanatory model of allergies. The research field of Neuroimmunology has the capacity for such a study – a research field that is presently established at UNIKA-T.


Original Publication



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Grafik PM Psychosoziale FaktorenThe graph depicts the association between allergies and psychosocial factors (graph: UNIKA-T; photos: Shutterstock)

KORA Basistudie bis umweltmed. FragebogenThe graph depicts the process from the KORA basic study S4 to the questionnaire by environmental medicine of which the data has been interpretated within the scope of the study (graph: K. Harter/ UNIKA-T)

Katharina HarterThe photo depicts Katharina Harter, MPH, first author of the study and doctoral student at UNIKA-T (photo: UNIKA-T)