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.

Sympathetic Hormones in Health Psychology Research

Sympathetic hormones in health psychology research
Paul J.MillsMichael G.Ziegler

Introduction and Basic Concepts

There is a long tradition of assessing sympathetic nervous system activity in behavioral medicine and more recently in health psychology research (Frankenhaeuser et al., 1968; Weiner, 1972). The sympathetic nervous system has far-ranging relevance to these health research endeavors, including areas of acute and chronic stress, mood and perception, and psychiatric disorders.

The most common way of assessing sympathetic activity is to determine circulating or excreted levels of the primary sympathetic neurohormones norepinephrine and epinephrine. Assessing these two catecholamines in blood and urine is relatively easy compared to more invasive ways of assessing sympathetic activity, such as microneurography, which provides a direct measure of the rate of sympathetic neural firing ...

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