Self-rated health, life-style, and psychoendocrine measures of stress in healthy adult women
Background. Self-rated health (SRH) is a robust predictor of subsequent health outcome, independent of objective health measures and life-style-related health risk factors. However, the determinants of SRH are as yet largely unknown. In accordance with the prevailing stress theory, we hypothesized that SRH is associated with personal coping resources, psychological strain, life-style variables, and endocrine variables.
Methods. A total of 106 healthy women, 22–59 years of age, were followed for up to 3 years with annual blood sampling (cortisol, prolactin, testosterone) and written questionnaires in which information on SRH, psychological strain, coping resources, socio-economic and life-style variables was sought.
Results. In bivariate, screening logistic regression analyses, intended to find candidate variables for a final analysis model, all coping resource variables (sense of coherence, mastery, and self-esteem) were significantly related to SRH, and so were two psychological strain variables (vital exhaustion, and sleep disturbances), one life-style variable (fitness), but none of the endocrine variables. In the final multivariate analysis model, including all candidate variables, only vital exhaustion (P < 0.0001), fitness (P = 0.0002), and sense of coherence (P = 0.0006) were independently associated with SRH, together explaining 74% of the SRH variance.
Conclusion. Some elements of the hypothesis, i.e. the effects of coping resources, psychological strain, and life-style variables on SRH, were supported by the results, while others, i.e. effects of endocrine measures on SRH, were not, indicating a possible gender difference.
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