STRESS AND THE IMMUNE RESPONSE

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The readings you accomplished for Module 3’s Case Assignment are quite new scientific theories that are currently being tested by scientists who are trying to figure out why individuals suffer from many immune-related issues such as fatigue, chronic pain, and even cancer. The scientific and medical communities have collected a lot of evidence that stress (and even inflammation) plays a very big role in these conditions. We still have a long way to go and a lot of unanswered questions.
The Dartmouth study in Case 3 gave you an introduction to the scientific method (watch the previous hyperlink for an overview of how the scientific method is used to gather data and analyze results). The “gold standard” of research design is often a “true experimental design” because it uses control and experimental groups which produce data that is analyzed statistically. Below you can read about another example of research design called a case study. There are many ways to conduct a study depending on budget, time, resources and the questions being asked. There are pros and cons to each. You can review different types of research methods at the following site: https://explorable.com/research-designs. Note the differences in true experimental designs versus case studies as you will contrast them later in this assignment. After you view this linked animation about the scientific method, read the following case study and complete the questions following this assignment:
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Case Study
Derek is a 25-year-old male who recently moved back in with his parents after his girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver 2 months ago. He had been dating his girlfriend for the past 3.5 years. As she was walking across a busy intersection to meet him for lunch, she was hit by a passing vehicle. He still vividly remembers the horrifying scene as the drunk driver ran the red light, plowing down his girlfriend right before his eyes. He ran to the scene, embracing her crumpled body as she died in his arms in the middle of the crosswalk. He keeps trying to erase the scene from his memory, but can’t seem to stop reliving the entire incident as if it was happening all over.
Derek has been having nightmares about the accident almost every night since the accident. He had to quit his job because his office was located in the building right next to the little café where he was meeting his girlfriend for lunch the day she died. The few times he attempted to return to work were unbearable for him. He has since avoided that entire area of town.
Normally an outgoing, fun-loving guy, Derek has become increasingly withdrawn and irritable since his girlfriend’s death. He’s stopped going to the gym, playing his guitar, or going out with his friends – all activities he once really enjoyed. His parents worry about how detached and emotionally flat he’s become.
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Answer the following questions in essay format about Derek’s condition:

• Observation: What are some of the observations you can make about Derek’s current state of health and well-being based on the information you have?
• Question: What question (or questions) would you formulate about his condition to help you arrive at a diagnosis?
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• Hypothesis: What do you currently know about short- and long-term stress and its effects on the body that can help you arrive at a hypothesis about his condition? Incorporate your knowledge of stress and inflammation to help you develop at least one hypothesis concerning his condition.
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• Experiment: How could you collect data to help you answer your questions above? Remember, you do not have a control in this scenario, so you must evaluate the case based on Derek’s symptoms alone. Do a bit of research on the technology available today that could help you evaluate his condition. Examples of new technology include brain imaging, blood chemistry, hormone level tests, CAT scans, MRIs, and DNA mapping.
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• Result: Now that you have some additional information, briefly and in simple terms, describe how you would test any missing information about Derek’s condition.

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