Examining the cross-sectional and longitudinal association between diurnal cortisol and neighborhood characteristics: Evidence from the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis

Anjum Hajat, Kari Moore, D. Phuong Do, Sharon Stein Merkin, Naresh M. Punjabi, Brisa Ney Sáñchez, Teresa Seeman, Ana V. Diez-Roux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We examined cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between neighborhood socioeconomic status, social cohesion and safety and features of the diurnal cortisol curve including: area under the curve (AUC), wake-to-bed slope, wake-up, cortisol awakening response (CAR, wake-up to 30. min post-awakening), early decline (30. min to 2. h post-awakening) and late decline (2. h post-awakening to bed time). In cross-sectional analyses, higher neighborhood poverty was associated with a flatter early decline and a flatter wake-to-bed slope. Higher social cohesion and safety were associated with higher wake-up cortisol, steeper early decline and steeper wake-to-bed slope. Over 5 years, wake-up cortisol increased, CAR, early decline, late decline and wake-to-bed slope became flatter and AUC became larger. Higher poverty was associated with less pronounced increases in wake-up and AUC, while higher social cohesion was associated with greater increases in wake-up and AUC. Adverse neighborhood environments were cross-sectionally associated with flatter cortisol profiles, but associations with changes in cortisol were weak and not in the expected direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Place
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015



  • Cortisol
  • Hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Neighborhood poverty
  • Safety
  • Social cohesion
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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