Dispositional Active Coping Predicts Patterns of Adolescents’ Cortisol Responsivity in the Context of School-related Stressors

Vanesa M. Perez, Nancy A. Gonzales, Jenn Yun Tein, Mariam Hanna Ibrahim, Linda J. Luecken, Sandra Losoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The goal of this study was to examine the direct and conditional effects of active coping and prior exposure to school-related stressors on cortisol reactivity and recovery in response to an academically salient, social stress task.Method: Participants included N= 758 adolescents (50% male; M age = 12.03 years, SD =.49) enrolled in the 7th grade in Title 1 middle schools. Adolescents were predominantly ethnic minorities (62% Hispanic, 12% non-Hispanic White, 11% non-Hispanic Black, 7% Native American, and 8% “other”). Youth completed self-reported assessments of their dispositional use of active coping strategies, prior exposure to school hassles, pubertal status, medication use, and relevant demographic information. In addition, youth engaged in an academically salient group public speaking task adapted for adolescents and provided salivary cortisol sample pre-task, immediately post-task, 15-, and 30-minutes post-task.Results: Results from piecewise latent growth curve modeling revealed that active coping independently predicted lower cortisol reactivity to the stress task. Furthermore, active coping was associated with slower cortisol recovery when adolescents reported not having experienced any school hassles in the past three months and faster recovery when having experienced several school hassles in the past three months. Results from multinomial logistic regressions revealed that greater use of active coping strategies was less likely to predict a hyper-reactive pattern of cortisol responding compared to other patterns.Conclusion: Findings provide support for active coping as a way to promote adaptive physiological responding to school-related stressors among ethnically diverse youth residing in low-income communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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