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BMJ Open. 2017 Oct 12;7(10):e016085. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016085.

Diurnal cortisol and mental well-being in middle and older age: evidence from four cohort studies.

Author information

1
MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, University College London, London, UK.
2
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
3
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
5
Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
6
McGill Group for Suicide Studies at Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
7
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
8
Population, Policy and Practice, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We conducted an individual participant meta-analysis to test the hypothesis that cortisol patterns indicative of dysregulated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning would be prospectively associated with poorer well-being at follow-up.

SETTING:

Four large UK-based cohort studies.

PARTICIPANTS:

Those providing valid salivary or serum cortisol samples (n=7515 for morning cortisol; n=1612 for cortisol awakening response) at baseline (age 44-82) and well-being data on the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale at follow-up (0-8 years) were included.

RESULTS:

Well-being was not associated with morning cortisol, diurnal slope or awakening response though a borderline association with evening cortisol was found. Adjusting for sex and follow-up time, each 1 SD increase in evening cortisol was associated with a -0.47 (95% CI -1.00 to 0.05) point lower well-being. This was attenuated by adjustment for body mass index, smoking and socioeconomic position. Between-study heterogeneity was low.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study does not support the hypothesis that diurnal cortisol is prospectively associated with well-being up to 8 years later. However, replication in prospective studies with cortisol samples over multiple days is required.

KEYWORDS:

individual participant data; meta-analysis; positive psychology

PMID:
29025828
PMCID:
PMC5652457
DOI:
10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016085
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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