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47. Intraindividual cortisol variability and psychological functioning in caregivers of hematopoietic stems cell transplant patients

Brain Behavior and Immunity
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.06.067
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


Caregiving for hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients (HSCTp) carries a psychological burden and may affect HPA-axis dysregulation. Greater intraindividual cortisol variability (ICV) has been observed in a number of psychiatric conditions; however, no research has looked at ICV in caregivers. In this secondary analysis of cross sectional data we predicted greater ICV would be related to a lower psychological functioning in HSCTp caregivers. Participants (total n=140) were primarily older (M age=53.4, SD=12.1) women (n=106). Salivary cortisol was collected using a filter paper method at 3 timepoints: at awakening, lunch and at 4PM. Psychological variables of interest included sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), mental health functioning (SF-36) and overall distress (principal component analysis). Multilevel modeling quantified ICV estimates. Correlation and regression analyses then examined relations between ICV and psychological variables of interest. ICV was significantly related to poorer sleep quality (r=.17; p<.05), reduced mental functioning (r=−.23; p<.05) and greater distress (r=.17; p<.05). After controlling for age and gender, the relationship among ICV and mental functioning and distress remained significant (standardized beta’s=−.25 and .18, respectively; p’s<.05). These results extend prior work examining ICV – potentially a unique marker of HPA-axis dysregulation – to caregiver populations. Future work will examine ICV over time and relationships among ICV and health outcomes. (Supported in part by NIH grant CA126971 and PCORI contract CE-1304-6208.)

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