Modernization and catecholamine excretion of young Samoan adults

Jay D. Pearson, Joel M. Hanna, Maureen H. Fitzgerald, Paul T. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urinary catecholamine excretion rates have been used as a cross-culturally valid measure of generalized stress. The purposes of this paper are to examine group differences in catecholamine excretion rates in three Samoan groups who differ in degree of modernization and to compare these findings to rates of norepinephrine and epinephrine excretion in other populations. In 1986-1987, 24-hr urine samples were collected from 18-37-year-old Samoans; 46 rural Western Samoan villagers, 53 American Samoans, and 49 Samoans residing in Honolulu. The results show that norepinephrine excretion is significantly higher in more modernized Samoan groups (P < 0.05), while epinephrine excretion is not significantly different in the three groups. The higher norepinephrine excretion rate in the more modernized Samoan groups may be related to differences in relative work load associated with changes in body weight, work capacity, and work patterns which accompany modernization. Samoan epinephrine excretion rates are relatively high compared to the results of other population studies, while norepinephrine excretion in three Samoan samples ranged from among the lowest rates observed worldwide to among the highest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-736
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1990


  • Polynesia
  • epinephrine
  • modernization
  • norepinephrine
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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