Biological Pathways to Stress-Related Disease Vulnerability in Educators

  • Silja BellingrathEmail author
  • Brigitte M. Kudielka
Part of the Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being book series (AHSW)


Teaching has often been described as a highly demanding occupation with increased risk for effort-reward-imbalance, burnout and elevated rates of premature retirement. A growing number of studies report associations between chronic work stress and dysregulations in various stress sensitive physiological systems in educators. Teachers are confronted with a wide range of stressors, including destructive and aggressive behavior of students or conflicting demands from supervisors, colleagues, students and students’ parents, which leaves many with a general perception of being rushed and chronically over worked. After presenting the methodology to measure stress markers commonly used in psychobiological studies, the present chapter summarizes findings on alterations in the endocrine stress system, the autonomic nervous system and the immune and blood coagulation system associated with chronic work stress in otherwise healthy educators. Results will be discussed in the framework of McEwen’s Allostatic Load Model, which assesses the cumulative burden exacted on the body through repeated attempts of adaptation to stressful situations in multiple physiological systems.


Educator stress Effort-reward-imbalance Burnout Allostatic load 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Work and Organizational PsychologyUniversity Duisburg-EssenDuisburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Medical Psychology, Psychological Diagnostics and Research MethodologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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