- The diurnal salivary cortisol pattern of adolescents from families with single, ill and healthy parents
- Journal of Psychosomatic Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 72 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Objective: Adolescents of single and/or chronically ill parents (target groups) reportedly have elevated psychological stress. However, their salivary cortisol pattern as part of the physiological stress system has not been compared to controls. The aim of this study is to examine differential outcomes in the diurnal cortisol pattern of the target groups.
Methods: In total, 100 adolescents of three groups with either single, chronically ill or two healthy parents were compared on cortisol. Three salivary cortisol samples were taken after awakening, one sample at noon and one sample at 20:00 p.m. during a non-school day. Group differences and interaction effects between measurement (5 times), group membership and covariates were tested through linear mixed modeling, repeated measures. Covariates were children's sex and age, socioeconomic status (SES) and parental depression as measured with the Beck Depression Inventory.
Results: The three groups did not differ significantly concerning the amount of salivary cortisol, even after controlling for the covariates. The target groups had a lower SES than adolescents with two healthy parents. In addition, chronically ill parents were more depressed than single and healthy parents. Male sex and older age of the child, and lower parental depression were associated with increased cortisol values throughout the day.
Conclusion: Research on cortisol in children should control for children's sex and age, and parental depression. Adolescents with single and/or chronically ill parents displayed a healthy pattern of diurnal salivary cortisol.
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