Brief Report

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 121-126

First online:

Does Exposure to Stressors Predict Changes in Physiological Dysregulation?

  • Dana A. GleiAffiliated withCenter for Population and Health, Georgetown University Email author 
  • , Noreen GoldmanAffiliated withOffice of Population Research, Princeton University
  • , Chih-Hsun WuAffiliated withPopulation and Health Research Center, Bureau of Health Promotion, Department of Health
  • , Maxine WeinsteinAffiliated withCenter for Population and Health, Georgetown University

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The allostatic load framework implies that cumulative exposure to stressors results in multi-system physiological dysregulation.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of stress burden on subsequent changes (2000–2006) in physiological dysregulation.


Data came from a population-based cohort study in Taiwan (n = 521, aged 54+ in 2000, re-examined in 2006). Measures of stressful events and chronic strain were based on questions asked in 1996, 1999, and 2000. A measure of trauma was based on exposure to the 1999 earthquake. Dysregulation was based on 17 biomarkers (e.g., metabolic, inflammatory, neuroendocrine).


There were some small effects among men: chronic strain was associated with subsequent increases in dysregulation (standardized β = 0.08, 95 % CI = 0.01 to 0.20), particularly inflammation; life events were also associated with increased inflammation (β = 0.10, CI = 0.01 to 0.26). There were no significant effects in women.


We found weak evidence that stress burden is associated with changes in dysregulation.


Stressors Psychological stress Life challenges Allostatic load Physiological dysregulation Biological markers