A non-linear association between self-reported negative emotional response to stress and subsequent allostatic load: prospective results from the Whitehall II Cohort Study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

November 15, 2014


Previous research suggests that high levels of negative emotions may
affect health. However, it is likely that the absence of an emotional
response following stressful events may also be problematic.
Accordingly, we investigate whether a non-linear association exists
between negative emotional response to major life events and allostatic
load, a multisystem indicator of physiological dysregulation. Study
sample was 6,764 British civil service workers from the Whitehall II
cohort. Negative emotional response was assessed by self-report at
baseline. Allostatic load was calculated using cardiovascular, metabolic
and immune function biomarkers at three clinical follow-up
examinations. A non-linear association between negative emotional
response and allostatic load was observed: being at either extreme end
of the distribution of negative emotional response increased the risk of
physiological dysregulation. Allostatic load also increased with age,
but the association between negative emotional response and allostatic
load remained stable over time. These results provide evidence for a
more nuanced understanding of the role of negative emotions in long-term
physical health.

Published in


Volume and page numbers

Volume: 49 , p.54 -61







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