, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 165-183

Measurement of cumulative physiological dysregulation in an older population

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The allostatic load framework postulates that an important pathway connecting the social environment with health involves biological responses to stressful stimuli and the subsequent dysregulation of interrelated physiological systems. We formulate a new measure for cumulative physiological dysregulation using a grade of membership model estimated with biodemographic data from a national sample of older Taiwanese persons. We investigate associations between the measure and physical, psychological, and cognitive function. The results provide insights into the relationships between a set of biological profiles and various health outcomes, identify limitations of earlier approaches, and underscore next steps in the development of improved formulations of physiological dysregulation.

All work was completed while Seplaki was a research associate at Princeton University. This research has been supported by the Demography and Epidemiology Unit of the Behavioral and Social Research Program of the National Institute of Aging, Grant No. R01AG16790 and R01AG16661, and by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Grant No. 5P30HD32030. We thank Burton Singer, Dana Glei, and Bruce McEwen for their helpful comments.