Given the high prevalence of early life stress (ELS) and the potential physiological dysregulation such experiences can lead to, this meta-analysis tested the relationship between ELS and cortisol. Search terms related to ELS and cortisol were entered in to PsycINFO and PubMed. Effect sizes were extracted for four outcomes variables: cortisol awakening response (CAR), baseline cortisol (cortisol at one time point), non-stressed cortisol over time (cortisol captured at two or more time points), and cortisol reactivity to an acute stressor. The articles were additionally coded for potential confounding variables, population-related, ELS-related and cortisol-related moderators. There was no significant relationship between ELS and the CAR (g=0.19, p=0.268), ELS and baseline cortisol (g=−0.072, p=0.328), ELS and non-stressed cortisol over time (g=0.09, p=0.292) or ELS and cortisol reactivity (g=−0.089, p=0.363). However, there was a significant amount of heterogeneity amongst relationships. Within the ELS-CAR relationship, in those who had experienced ELS that was sexually, physically or emotionally abusive, the CAR was heightened. Within the ELS-Baseline relationship, if blood samples were collected the ELS was associated with a blunting effect of cortisol. The non-significant main effects challenge the commonly held belief in the literature that ELS affects cortisol later in life. However, the high degree of heterogeneity uncovered by this analysis and significant moderators suggest that the literature may benefit from consistent operationalizations of ELS and standardized methods of how cortisol is measured.
Hormones and Behavior – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera