The field of health psychology has exploded in the last decade due to progress identifying physiological mechanisms by which psychological, social, and behavioral factors can put people's health and well-being at risk. The Handbook of Physiological Research Methods in Health Psychology provides thorough, state-of-the-art, and user-friendly coverage of basic techniques for measurement of physiological variables in health psychology research. It is designed to serve as a primary reference source for researchers and students interested in expanding their research to consider a biopsychosocial approach. Chapters addressing key physiological measures have been written by international experts with an eye towards documenting essential information that must be considered in order to accurately and reliably measure biological samples. The book is not intended to be a lab manual of specific biomedical techniques, nor is it intended to provide extensive physiological or anatomical information. Rather, it takes the approach most useful for a non-specialist who seeks guidance on how and when to collect biological measures but who will have the actual samples assayed elsewhere. The Handbook can be thought of as a primer or a gateway book for researchers new to the area of physiological measurement and for readers who would like to better understand the meaning of physiological measures they encounter in research reports.

Measurement of Cortisol

Measurement of cortisol
Nancy A.Nicolson

Introduction to the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical Axis

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis and its end product, cortisol, are thought to be important mediators of the relationship between stressful life experiences and health outcomes. The HPA response is a component of the organism's adaptive system for maintaining function under changing environmental circumstances. Over the long term, however, chronic overactivation following repeated stressors can give rise to wear and tear or allostatic load (McEwen, 2003). Both maladaptive responses to stress and disturbances in the functioning of the HPA axis have been implicated in a wide variety of syndromes and illnesses, including cardiovascular illness, insulin resistance syndrome and diabetes, cognitive decline during aging, fatigue and pain syndromes, and psychiatric disorders such as depression and posttraumatic stress ...

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