Perceived Stress, Psychological Resources and Salivary Cortisol
Pp. 67-86 (20)
Christina Halford, Ingibjörg H. Jonsdottir and Frida Eek
The aim of this chapter was to analyze associations between measures of cortisol in saliva with
measures of perceived stress, using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and of psychological resources in
terms of mastery, locus of control, self-esteem and sense of coherence. Only studies on healthy individuals
were included and cortisol measures were grouped into single time point measures, deviation measures,
Area Under the Curve (AUC), laboratory test responses, and dexamethasone suppression. For both
Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and for psychological resources, most results of associations with saliva
cortisol were nonsignificant particularly for single measures and for cortisol awakening response. For PSS
the largest proportion of significant findings (38%) was seen for morning AUC, however with conflicting
results. For psychological resource constructs, mastery and sense of coherence were related to lower cortisol
level at baseline in standardized rest and high mastery was related to steeper diurnal slope in two studies.
For self-esteem, no associations showed significant results. Differences in findings may to a large extent be
dependent on theoretical assumptions made and methods used.
Researcher at the Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Box 564, 751 22 Uppsala, Sweden, Associate professor at the Institute of Stress Medicine, Gothenburg, Sweden, Associate professor at the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University, Sweden