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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Sep;47:241-5. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 May 27.

Familial social support predicts a reduced cortisol response to stress in sexual minority young adults.

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Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, Box 102, New York, NY 10027, United States.
Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 West 168th Street, Room 549.B, New York, NY 10032, United States. Electronic address:


Social support has been repeatedly associated with mental and physical health outcomes, with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis activity posited as a potential mechanism. The influence of social bonds appears particularly important in the face of stigma-related stress; however, there is a dearth of research examining social support and HPA axis response among members of a stigmatized group. To address this gap in the literature, we tested in a sample of 70 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) young adults whether family support or peer support differentially predict cortisol reactivity in response to a laboratory stressor, the Trier Social Stress Test. While greater levels of family support were associated with reduced cortisol reactivity, neither peer support nor overall support satisfaction was associated with cortisol response. These findings suggest that the association between social support and neuroendocrine functioning differs according to the source of support among members of one stigmatized group.


HPA axis; Salivary cortisol; Social support; Stigma; Stress

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