Cortisol Responses to Naturalistic and Laboratory Stress in Student Teachers: Comparison with a Non-stress Control Day
Version of Record online: 9 AUG 2012
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Stress and Health
Volume 29, Issue 2, pages 143–149, April 2013
How to Cite
Wolfram, M., Bellingrath, S., Feuerhahn, N. and Kudielka, B. M. (2013), Cortisol Responses to Naturalistic and Laboratory Stress in Student Teachers: Comparison with a Non-stress Control Day. Stress and Health, 29: 143–149. doi: 10.1002/smi.2439
- Issue online: 1 APR 2013
- Version of Record online: 9 AUG 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 18 JUN 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 18 JUN 2012
- Manuscript Received: 4 MAY 2012
- ambulatory assessment;
- salivary cortisol;
- natural stress;
- hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis;
- cortisol awakening response (CAR)
Ambulatory assessments of hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis responses to acute natural stressors yield evidence on stress regulation with high ecological validity. Sampling of salivary cortisol is a standard technique in this field.
In 21 healthy student teachers, we assessed cortisol responses to a demonstration lesson. On a control day, sampling was repeated at analogous times. Additionally, the cortisol awakening response (CAR) was assessed on both days. Participants were also exposed to a laboratory stressor, the Trier Social Stress Test, and rated their individual levels of chronic work stress.
In pre-to-post-stress assessment, cortisol levels declined after the lesson. However, post-stress cortisol levels were significantly higher compared with those on the control day. Also, the Trier Social Stress Test yielded higher cortisol responses when using the control day as reference baseline. Associations between the CAR and chronic stress measures were observed solely on the control day. There were no significant associations between cortisol responses to the natural and laboratory stressors.
Our results indicate that a control day might be an important complement in laboratory but especially in ambulatory stress research. Furthermore, associations between chronic stress measures and the CAR might be obscured by acute stress exposure. Finally, responses to the laboratory stressor do not seem to mirror natural stress responses. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.