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Cortisol levels and psychosocial factors in preadolescent children
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2006 (English)In: Stress and Health, ISSN 1532-3005, E-ISSN 1532-2998, Vol. 22, no 1, 3-9 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Regarding the relationship between psychosocial factors and health, one model of explanation states that psychosocial stress constitutes a principal mediator connecting psychosocial factors to health outcome, affecting the body through psychobiological mechanisms. This relationship has scarcely been studied in children. In the present study the relation between diurnal cortisol secretion and psychosocial factors [socio-economic status (SES), immigrant status and impact of psychiatric symptoms] was investigated in a normal population of 6-12 year old children (n = 273). Salivary cortisol levels were measured in the early morning, late morning and in the evening during three consecutive days. Parents answered demographic questionnaires and teachers answered psychiatric questionnaires concerning the children. Children exposed to one or more of the factors of psychosocial load (n = 117) had significantly higher morning (p < 0.001) and evening (p = 0.029) cortisol levels as well as total daily cortisol secretion [measured by the area under the curve (AUC), p = 0.003] compared to the group of children with none of the factors (n = 156). Different psychosocial stressors seemed to influence different parts of the diurnal cortisol curve. In conclusion, this study indicates that even children exposed to a moderate degree of psychosocial load differ in their cortisol levels compared to non-exposed children.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 22, no 1, 3-9 p.
Keyword [en]
Psychiatric symptoms, child, cortisol, socio-economic factors, stress
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-15680DOI: 10.1002/smi.1074OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-15680DiVA: diva2:126933
Available from: 2008-11-26 Created: 2008-11-26 Last updated: 2017-12-14
In thesis
1. Psychosocial Stress, Mental Health and Salivary Cortisol in Children and Adolescents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Psychosocial Stress, Mental Health and Salivary Cortisol in Children and Adolescents
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Stressful experiences and conditions in childhood influence the health and well-being of the growing individual, and can also confer a long-lasting impact into adult life. Delineating the social, mental and biological aspects of stress in children and adolescents is therefore of great concern for human beings. Despite these notions, much knowledge is lacking regarding stress in childhood.

This thesis aimed at examining diverse aspects of stress in children and adolescents: associations between social conditions, traumatic life events, mental health, and salivary cortisol as a measure of the activity of a major physiological stress system. Cross-sectional samples included two non-clinical samples of school-aged children (N=240-336) and adolescents (N =400), and two clinical samples of children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (N =23) and adolescents who had experienced childhood abuse (N =15). Main measures were salivary cortisol sampled three times a day, and questionnaires to teachers, parents and children with questions about each child’s mental health, traumatic life events and about the socioeconomic situation of the parents.

The main findings include observation of 1) higher cortisol levels in children with a moderate level of psychosocial burden (low socioeconomic status, immigrant family, social impairment of mental health problems), 2) higher cortisol levels in children with OCD who also displayed a tendency to decreasing cortisol in the face of an acute stressor, and 3) cortisol was positively related to mental health problems in abused adolescents. Furthermore, the deleterious effect of 4) traumatic events involving a social dimension, interpersonal traumas, and 5) cumulative traumatic events, polytraumatization, on the mental health of children and adolescents was indicated.

The findings are discussed with respect to the complex interactions between social, mental and biological aspects of children and adolescents. The consequences of adverse experiences in childhood may represent pathways to future health problems. Consideration of the social circumstances in childhood might in the future guide public health policies and the identification of target groups for preventive interventions as well as leading to improvements in treatment for children exposed to severe stress.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2008. 138 p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1084
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-15686 (URN)978-91-7393-776-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-12-03, Berzeliussalen, Hälsouniversitetet, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-11-26 Created: 2008-11-26 Last updated: 2009-08-21Bibliographically approved

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Gustafsson, Per E Gustafsson, Per A Nelson, Nina

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