Diurnal Cortisol Secretion and 2-Year Changes in Older Adults' Physical Symptoms: The Moderating Roles of Negative Affect and Sleep

Carsten Wrosch*, Gregory E. Miller, Sonia Lupien, Jens C. Pruessner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: This study examined whether the association between cortisol secretion and changes in physical health symptoms would depend on other factors in a person's life. The authors expected that physical health effects would emerge particularly when cortisol disturbances co-occur in the context of high levels of trait negative affect or poor sleep. Design: Physical symptoms, diurnal cortisol secretion, affective tendencies, and sleep efficiency were assessed in a 2-yr longitudinal study of 184 older adults. Main Outcome Measure: Two-year changes in physical symptoms. Results: High cortisol levels were associated with increases in physical symptoms, but only among participants who experienced high negative affect and poor sleep. Conclusion: Elevated levels of cortisol secretion contribute to older adults' physical symptoms if they co-occur in the context of other emotional and behavioral problems. By contrast, cortisol disturbances may not influence physical symptoms among people who are emotionally well or engage in efficient sleep behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-693
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume27
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2008

Keywords

  • affect
  • cortisol
  • physical health
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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