Journal of Molecular Biomarkers and Clinical Trials

In Older Adults, Intervention Impacts the Association Between the Cortisol Awakening Response and Three Measures of Wellbeing: Meaningful Activities, Life Satisfaction and Perceived Control

Published on: 2017-05-22


Studies report associations between the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and measures of psychological stress and wellbeing suggesting the possibility that individual differences in the CAR might influence which individuals respond to intervention programs aimed at promoting healthier lifestyle. This issue is studied in a randomized control trial in a large (N =460) ethnically diverse community sample of elder adults (M age 74.9; 66% female) using a cross-over design. Three key measures of wellbeing (i.e., meaningful activity, perceived control, and life satisfaction) were taken before and six months later. Some participants (N = 232) did not receive intervention the first six months, they acted as a control group, but after six months they received intervention and were measured again six months later. The intervention was a lifestyle-oriented occupational therapy program. Results revealed that prior to intervention, no associations were found between the CAR and the wellbeing measures. However, after intervention, associations between the CAR and wellbeing were pronounced. After intervention, as CAR increases, typical MAPA, PC and LSIZ scores tend to decrease. For PC and LSIZ, this is particularly true for positive CAR values; for negative CAR values there is a relatively small change in PC and LSIZ scores. The CAR, measured after intervention, is also associated with the extent MAPA and PC scores improve compared to baseline measures. Findings are among the first to document the nature of the effects of intervention on the association between activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and key measures of wellbeing. Implications for future investigations are discussed.


Cortisol; Meaningful Activity; Perceived Control; Life Satisfaction; Well Elderly 2 Study