Stress Biomarkers in Black Youth: Exploring Psychological, Behavioral, and Socio-Ecological Correlates.

Academic Article


  • Exposure to chronic stress is a major public health concern. Black youth are vulnerable to chronic stress exposure given their overrepresentation in urban neighborhoods characterized by socio-ecological stressors. We contribute to this emerging body of knowledge by (1) investigating stress-induced variability in cortisol response patterns among Black youth, and (2) examining risk and protective factors associated with physiological stress responses. Salivary cortisol was collected from a community sample of 123 low-income Black youth ages 13 to 21. Latent class analysis (LCA) and logistic regression were utilized to identify discrete groups based on cortisol reactivity, and psychological, behavioral, and socio-ecological correlates of class membership. LCA supported a 2-class model of cortisol reactivity. Youth in class one were indicative of a normative stress response with mean cortisol awakening response of 0.38 μg/dL (SD = 0.19), 0.48 μg/dL (SD = 0.20) at time 2, and 0.44 μg/dL (SD = 0.20) at time 3. Youth in class two exhibited a blunted stress response with mean cortisol awakening response of 0.20 μg/dL (SD = 0.11), 0.21 μg/dL (SD = 0.09) at time 2, and 0.18 μg/dL (SD = 0.08) at time 3. Delinquent peer exposure and post-traumatic stress symptoms were negatively associated with blunted stress responses, while greater depressive symptoms were positively associated with blunted stress responses. Black youth displayed distinct physiological stress reactivity patterns. Interventions are needed to assist youth in coping with stress while transforming the upstream factors that give rise to adverse community conditions.
  • Authors

  • Foell, Andrew
  • Amano, Takashi
  • Newransky, Chrisann
  • Nebbitt, Von
  • Lombe, Margaret
  • Yu, Mansoo
  • Horton, Dominique
  • Enelamah, Ngozi
  • Riffer, Andie
  • Villodas, Melissa L
  • Tirmazi, M Taki
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • October 2023
  • Keywords

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers
  • Black or African American
  • Black youth
  • Chronic stress
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Racial/ethnic health disparities
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Young Adult
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 892
  • End Page

  • 903
  • Volume

  • 100
  • Issue

  • 5