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Naturalistic Stress Exposure and the Diurnal Cortisol Profile in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis


Naturalistic Stress Exposure and the Diurnal Cortisol Profile in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis

Wright, Leah (2016) Naturalistic Stress Exposure and the Diurnal Cortisol Profile in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Wright_MA_F2016.pdf - Accepted Version


Stress during childhood has been found to impact health across the lifespan. Research has demonstrated that the development of the diurnal cortisol profile can be altered by early exposure to stress. However, the literature is heterogeneous, with evidence of stress exposure being associated with heightened cortisol, lowered cortisol, blunted cortisol, and with no association. This thesis parses this heterogeneity by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of 33 studies that assessed the association between stress exposure during childhood using standardized measures of stress and cortisol. Participant characteristics, study methodology, and conceptual factors were examined as potential moderators of this association. We found that stress and cortisol had a small but significant association (Z’ = 0.029). The type of stress measure employed impacted the strength of the association: life-events measures were more strongly associated with cortisol secretion when intensity of the stress exposure was taken into account. Distal vs. proximal measures of stress exposure were differentially associated with cortisol and stress. Child report stress had a stronger association with cortisol than parent report stress. Possible cortisol blunting was found in populations “at risk” for stress exposure, mental health problems, and medical conditions. Possible cortisol blunting was found in populations as they age. Together, this thesis contributes to the extant literature on the association between naturalistic stress exposure and diurnal cortisol secretion in children.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Wright, Leah
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:13 September 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):McGrath, Jennifer
Keywords:Cortisol, stress, childhood, adolescence, meta-analysis
ID Code:981770
Deposited By: LEAH WRIGHT
Deposited On:07 Nov 2016 20:13
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:53


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