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Social determinants may negatively affect health via Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction. The potential contribution of social determinants and related factors to HPA-axis functioning is important to study among African American adults, who are more likely to experience societal inequities and health disparities relative to other racial/ethnic groups. This study examined the relationship between depressive symptoms and perceived social control on HPA-axis functioning among African American adults. Participants (N = 107; Mage = 50, 79% female) were administered measures including the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression and Informal (neighborhood) Social Control. Study procedures included the provision of 6 saliva samples for cortisol analysis (at wakeup, 30- and 90-min post-wakeup, 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and prebedtime). The relationship between depression and social control on the functioning of the HPA-axis were simultaneously examined within a 2-level hierarchical linear model. Variability in the Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) was accounted for by depressive symptomatology (p = .023) and perceived social control (p = .016), whereby greater depression was associated with a blunted CAR (less awakening cortisol production) and greater perceptions of neighborhood social control with a higher CAR. Elevated depressive symptoms and low perceptions of neighborhood social control may serve as mechanisms that help to explain within-group variability in the functioning of stress physiology among African American adults. Findings enhance understanding of how social determinants may affect African Americans' health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).


Ezemenari M Obasi, Tzu-An Chen, Lucia Cavanagh, B Katherine Smith, Kristin A Wilborn, Lorna H McNeill, Lorraine R Reitzel. Depression, perceived social control, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function in African-American adults. Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association. 2020 Feb;39(2):107-115

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PMID: 31697108

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