Salivary Stress Biomarkers as Tools for Determining Stress Adaptability and Resilience
Measuring Resilience to Operational Stress in Canadian Armed Forces Personnel.
Authors: Hellewell SC & Cernak I (2018), J Trauma Stress.
ABSTRACT: Adaptability to stress is governed by innate resilience, comprised of complex neuroendocrine and immune mechanisms alongside inherited or learned behavioral traits. Based on their capacity to adapt, some people thrive in stressful situations, whereas others experience maladaptation. In our study, we used state-of-the-art tools to assess the resilience level in individuals, as well as their susceptibility to developing military stress-induced behavioral and cognitive deficits. To address this complex question, we tested Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel in three distinct stress environments (baselines): during predeployment training, deployment in Afghanistan, and readjustment upon return to Canada. Our comprehensive outcome measures included psychometric tests, saliva biomarkers, and computerized cognitive tests that used the Cambridge Neuropsychological Automated Test Battery. Participants were categorized based on initial biomarker measurements as being at low-, moderate-, or high stress-maladaptation risk. Biomarkers showed significant changes (ds = 0.56 to 2.44) between baselines, calculated as “delta” changes. Participants at low stress-maladaptation risk demonstrated minimal changes, whereas those at high stress-maladaptation risk showed significant biomarker variations. The psychometric patterns and cognitive functions were likewise affected across baselines, suggesting that the panel of saliva stress biomarkers could be a useful tool for determining the risk of stress maladaptation that can cause psychological and cognitive decline.
Keywords: Stress adaptibility, resilience, salivary stress biomarkers, stress reactivity, stress maladaptation
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