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Psychosom Med. 2007 Jul-Aug;69(6):514-20. Epub 2007 Jul 16.

Socioeconomic status is related to urinary catecholamines in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.

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  • 1Departments of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.



To determine whether socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with catecholamine levels (epinephrine [E] and norepinephrine [NE]-indicators of sympathetic nervous system [SNS] activity) in a community-based sample of men and women, Blacks and Whites, with a broad range of income; and to test whether such a relationship is mediated by psychosocial factors and/or health behaviors.


A total of 672 participants from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study (CARDIA) provided 12-hour, overnight urine samples, and completed sociodemographic, health behavior, and psychosocial questionnaires.


Regardless of whether measured in terms of income, education, or occupation, higher SES was associated with lower urinary catecholamine levels, independent of age, race, and gender. These relationships were stronger in men than in women but were similar across Blacks and Whites. Smoking and greater levels of depressive symptoms accounted for some of the association of SES with E and, to a lesser extent, with NE.


These data provide support for the hypothesis that lower SES is accompanied by increased physiologic distress, indicated by elevated SNS activity. Further, they suggest that the association of SES with catecholamines, like the associations of SES with morbidity and mortality, is apparent at all levels of the socioeconomic hierarchy.

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