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Using child confederates in social stress testing: impact on child cortisol reactivity

Using child confederates in social stress testing: impact on child cortisol reactivity
Using child confederates in social stress testing: impact on child cortisol reactivity
Background: Social evaluative threat (SET) is well recognised as key characteristic in activation of the stress response and has been repeatedly manipulated in the laboratory with adult populations. Yet lab stress testing in children has yielded comparatively inconsistent findings. The majority of work has utilised a live audience of adult confederates on the stress panel, whether testing adults or children. The use of adult testing panels when testing children may explain some of these inconsistent findings. The aim of this study was to design a more meaningful stress test for children using age matched peers as panel actors and a sham audience portrayed as live but using a pre-recorded video.
Method: An experimental laboratory design was employed. Thirty-three participants aged 7-11 years underwent a ten minute social stress test, the Bath Experimental Stress Test for Children (BEST-C). This composed a public speaking task and maths challenge in front of a panel of their peers, pre-recorded and presented as a live feed. Salivary cortisol was assessed at four points, pre–post stress testing. Participants were interviewed about their experience of the test as a post manipulation check and responses thematically coded.
Findings: Cortisol levels significantly increased in response to the BEST-C (p=.029). Significant main effects and interactions during the recovery period suggested that the BEST-C generated a typical stress response but the sample showed age and gender differences during the recovery period. Three distinct patterns of subjective response emerged from the post stress interviews: i) task stressful, quickly recovered; ii) task stressful, stress continued post task; iii) task not stressful. Cortisol responses over the task and recovery period mapped directly onto these three response patterns.
Discussion: Child confederates of participant target age reliably induced a stress response in young children using the BEST-C. This is the first social stress test for children using both child confederates and a sham panel. It offers a meaningful acute stress paradigm with potential application to other child and adolescent age groups for investigating relationships between stress, coping and health outcomes.
A-151
Cheetham, Tara
99ea7608-7d19-4e78-bd98-5ca3ca1c46f1
Turner-Cobb, Julie M.
346fe260-ff87-4be3-aada-9e3e3f83e9f0
Family, Hannah E.
46c73d2e-9516-4253-9612-a52cee835ef1
Cheetham, Tara
99ea7608-7d19-4e78-bd98-5ca3ca1c46f1
Turner-Cobb, Julie M.
346fe260-ff87-4be3-aada-9e3e3f83e9f0
Family, Hannah E.
46c73d2e-9516-4253-9612-a52cee835ef1

Cheetham, Tara, Turner-Cobb, Julie M. and Family, Hannah E. (2015) Using child confederates in social stress testing: impact on child cortisol reactivity. American Psychosomatic Society (APS), 73rd Annual Meeting, Savannah, United States. 01 - 15 Mar 2015. A-151 .

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)

Abstract

Background: Social evaluative threat (SET) is well recognised as key characteristic in activation of the stress response and has been repeatedly manipulated in the laboratory with adult populations. Yet lab stress testing in children has yielded comparatively inconsistent findings. The majority of work has utilised a live audience of adult confederates on the stress panel, whether testing adults or children. The use of adult testing panels when testing children may explain some of these inconsistent findings. The aim of this study was to design a more meaningful stress test for children using age matched peers as panel actors and a sham audience portrayed as live but using a pre-recorded video.
Method: An experimental laboratory design was employed. Thirty-three participants aged 7-11 years underwent a ten minute social stress test, the Bath Experimental Stress Test for Children (BEST-C). This composed a public speaking task and maths challenge in front of a panel of their peers, pre-recorded and presented as a live feed. Salivary cortisol was assessed at four points, pre–post stress testing. Participants were interviewed about their experience of the test as a post manipulation check and responses thematically coded.
Findings: Cortisol levels significantly increased in response to the BEST-C (p=.029). Significant main effects and interactions during the recovery period suggested that the BEST-C generated a typical stress response but the sample showed age and gender differences during the recovery period. Three distinct patterns of subjective response emerged from the post stress interviews: i) task stressful, quickly recovered; ii) task stressful, stress continued post task; iii) task not stressful. Cortisol responses over the task and recovery period mapped directly onto these three response patterns.
Discussion: Child confederates of participant target age reliably induced a stress response in young children using the BEST-C. This is the first social stress test for children using both child confederates and a sham panel. It offers a meaningful acute stress paradigm with potential application to other child and adolescent age groups for investigating relationships between stress, coping and health outcomes.

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Published date: March 2015
Venue - Dates: American Psychosomatic Society (APS), 73rd Annual Meeting, Savannah, United States, 2015-03-01 - 2015-03-15

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Local EPrints ID: 420259
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/420259
PURE UUID: 61e70c9a-75eb-4978-93db-90c9a178091c

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Date deposited: 03 May 2018 16:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 18:33

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