Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Cortisol Output and Academic Stress Study

This study is based on a within-subject design, studying medical and law students in two distinct phases: during average academic stress and during high academic stress. Data from both phases will establish whether academic stress induces increases in cortisol concentrations in both salivary and hair specimens. Reflection of the same time frame in both tissues will enable analyses of the temporal relationship between hair cortisol and saliva samples. These comparisons will be made under average and high academic stress conditions, in case stress affects the timing of relationships. Different psychosocial attributes might function as a stress buffer. Lastly, psychological coping processes will be evaluated as potential moderators of cortisol responses to stress in both tissues.

This study was partly funded by the Medical Research Council through Bianca Serwinski's PhD studentship and by Andrew Steptoe's British Heart Foundation programme grant. Data collection for this study was completed in 2016.

Principal Investigator: Professor Andrew Steptoe