12.19.2014 - Study review examines whether Cortisol Activity can be altered by Psychosocial Interventions

Author: Slopen N, et al. (2014) Pediatrics

Interventions to improve cortisol regulation in children: a systematic review.

The objective of this review was to examine evidence for the effectiveness of interventions to promote healthy cortisol regulation in children. We selected articles from English-language publications in PubMed and EBSCO databases through 2012. Eligible studies were randomized controlled or quasi-experimental studies designed to improve relationships, environments, or psychosocial functioning in children and examined cortisol as an outcome. We identified 19 articles. There was substantial heterogeneity across studies with regard to age, selection criteria, intervention design, cortisol assessment, and follow-up duration. Eighteen of the 19 articles reported at least 1 difference in baseline cortisol, diurnal cortisol, or cortisol responsivity between intervention and control participants. Importantly, however, there was remarkable inconsistency with regard to how the interventions influenced cortisol. Therefore, studies that included a low-risk comparison group (n = 8) provided critical insight, and each found some evidence that postintervention cortisol levels in the intervention group approximated the low-risk comparison group and differed from children receiving usual care. In conclusion, existing studies show that cortisol activity can be altered by psychosocial interventions.

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