The Role of Saliva Cortisol Measurement in Health and Disease. Introduction - Why This Book?
Pp. 3-16 (14)
Margareta Kristenson, Peter Garvin and Ulf Lundberg
In recent decades, the technique of using ambulatory saliva sampling for measuring cortisol
levels has become increasingly popular in field research and clinical studies aimed at investigating
bodily responses to psychosocial stress and other psychological and clinical conditions. This interest is
paralleled with frustrations on opposing and ambiguous results. To get a deeper understanding of the
seemingly contradictory results, the Scandinavian cortisol and stress network (Scancort) was formed,
based on 20 researchers from the disciplines of public health, psychology, biology and medicine. This
book is based on a critical review of the existing empirical literature on salivary cortisol, aiming to
evaluate the usefulness of salivary cortisol as a biomarker in various settings. In particular, this book
focuses on how the many different ways of evaluating the levels and dynamics of salivary cortisol (i.e.,
with regard to time points of assessment and different algorithms used to integrate data from multiple
time points) affect the interpretation of cortisol measurements in various contexts. One main question is
to find out if it is possible that different results of studies involving cortisol assessments are functions of
differences in the theoretic assumptions made and the methods used.
Salivary cortisol, stress, cognitive activation theory of stress, adults, ambulatory, single time
point measures, deviations measures, area under the curve, laboratory test, dexamethasone.
Professor of Social Medicine and Public Health Science Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University Sweden