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Informal caregiving and diurnal patterns of salivary cortisol: results from the Whitehall II cohort study

Mortensen, J and Dich, N and Clark, AJ and Ramlau-Hansen, CH and Head, J and Kivimäki, M and Kumari, M and Rod, NH (2018) 'Informal caregiving and diurnal patterns of salivary cortisol: results from the Whitehall II cohort study.' Psychoneuroendocrinology. ISSN 0306-4530

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The objective was to investigate the relation between various aspects of informal caregiving and diurnal patterns of salivary cortisol, with special attention to the moderating effect of sex and work status. The study population was composed of 3,727 men and women from the British Whitehall II study. Salivary cortisol was measured six times during a weekday. Aspects of caregiving included the relationship of caregiver to recipient, weekly hours of caregiving, and length of caregiving. Diurnal cortisol profiles were assessed using the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and diurnal cortisol slopes. Results showed that men, but not women, providing informal care had a blunted CAR compared with non-caregivers (PInteraction = 0.03). Furthermore, we found a dose-response relationship showing that more weekly hours of informal care was associated with a more blunted CAR for men (Ptrend = 0.03). Also, the blunted CAR for men was especially pronounced in short-term caregivers and those in paid work. In women, the steepest cortisol slope was seen among those in paid work who provided informal care (PInteraction = 0.01). To conclude, we found different cortisol profiles in male and female informal caregivers. Male caregivers had a blunted CAR, which has previously been associated with chronic stress and burnout, while female caregivers did not. This association among men was especially pronounced for those providing many weekly hours of care, short-term caregivers, and caregivers in paid work.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Informal caregiving, Cortisol, work life, cohort study
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Institute for Social and Economic Research
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2018 09:39
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 01:00

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