Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

Department

Medicine

First Advisor

Michael J. Crowley

Second Advisor

Linda C. Mayes

Subject Area(s)

Medicine

Abstract

GENDER AND AGE TRENDS IN THE TRIER SOCIAL STRESS TEST FOR CHILDREN (TSST-C) AND A PLACEBO COMPARISON CONDITION.

Tammi-Marie K. Phillip, Linda C. Mayes, Rebecca Hommer, Tara M. Chaplin, Jia Wu, and Michael J. Crowley, Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.

This cross-sectional study examined social stress among male and female youth aged 10-17 years using the Trier Social Stress Test For Children (TSST-C) and a placebo TSST-C for comparison. We hypothesized that there would be significant Time and Time x Condition (TSST-C vs. control) effects for all measures taken, significant Time x Age Group (10-12 years vs. 13-14 years vs. 15-17 years) effects for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and significant Gender (male vs. female) effects for salivary cortisol measures.

This study was part of a larger project with an embedded experiment. As such, we randomly assigned the first 85 subjects to either the TSST-C or the control group. The remaining 29 subjects, although unaware, were automatically assigned to the TSST-C group. Our final sample consisted of 114 healthy subjects (57 male and 57 female) aged 10-17 years. Subjects performed Condition specific tasks (TSST-C vs. control), and regular measurements of subjective anxiety ratings, salivary cortisol, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were taken.

We observed significant Time and Time x Condition effects for all measures taken. A significant Time x Gender effect was also seen for salivary cortisol (males > females), and a Time x Gender x Age Group effect for systolic blood pressure. We concluded that the 13-14 year age group had the highest HPA stress reactivity allowing for the assumption that this period may represent a time of increased vulnerability, and that there is an increase in the basal sympathetic and HPA axis activity with increasing age.

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