The Role of Saliva Cortisol Measurement in Health and Disease

Perceived Stress, Psychological Resources and Salivary Cortisol

Author(s): Christina Halford, Ingibjörg H. Jonsdottir and Frida Eek

Pp: 67-86 (20)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805342111201010067


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.

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