Introduction Several international studies have used the allostatic load as an important multi-dimensional index to indicate chronic stress. Measurement of allostatic load has been done through parameters from various biological systems. Through its measurement, it’s possible to assess the consequences of chronic stress on several systems, and also predict, prevent or delay chronic diseases that may occur later. Despite its importance, methodological issues regarding its operationalization remains. The aim of our study was to compare two approaches to scoring allostatic load.
Methods Data were obtained from the baseline of the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil). The sample included 10 965 active civil servants aged 34–74 years old. The allostatic load was measured based on 15 biologic parameters, including neurophysiological, metabolic, cardiovascular and inflammatory measurements. We compared two approaches to scoring allostatic load – based on clinical and risk quartile thresholds. Socioeconomic variables such as age, gender, skin colour and educational level were analysed. We performed descriptive analyses as mean, standard deviation and prevalence and conduced Student’s t test, ANOVA and linear regression analysis. Data were analysed using R.
Results The findings showed that the percentage of individuals with high risk biologic parameters were different according to allostatic load scoring approaches. The mean values of the allostatic load clinically based were higher in all socioeconomic variables compared to the allostatic load quartile based. Nevertheless, in the linear regression model the magnitude of association observed was similar when comparing the both allostatic load scoring approaches.
Discussion This is the first Brazilian study that explores different approaches to scoring allostatic load. Besides, our study highlight the importance of studying the allostatic load at Brazilian context and how it can be used as a potential tool to occupational health and practice and contribute to prevent chronic diseases related to the chronic exposure to stress.
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