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Age, behavioural and psychosocial factors: associations with cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone

Heaney, Jennifer (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

The research in this thesis was concerned with relationships between cortisol, DHEA/S and psychosocial and behavioural factors in relation to age. First, symptoms of depression, anxiety and low social support were associated with higher diurnal cortisol and awakening response in younger adults compared to older adults. Second, younger adults who had a poorer diet were shown to have significantly lower cortisol in the morning period. Third, older adults with poorer levels of physical function were characterised by flatter diurnal profiles of cortisol and DHEA. Fourth, older adults experiencing more severe life events stress had a higher cortisol:DHEA ratio. In addition, under conditions of greater stress exposure, exercise may buffer against the effects of stress on the cortisol:DHEA ratio in older adults. Finally, long term exercise training did not attenuate age-associated hormonal changes in healthy older adults. However, it was shown that an acute bout of exercise can affect hormonal levels in older populations which are influenced by sex. Overall, a range of associations were demonstrated between behavioural, psychosocial and physical factors, which often appear to be mediated by age. These findings suggest that these hormones and their diurnal rhythms are central to various aspects of health and wellbeing.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Phillips, Anna and Carroll, Douglas
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Psychology
Subjects:BF Psychology
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3315
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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