A pilot study of stress system activation in children enrolled in a targeted prevention program: Implications for personalization

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Abstract

Empirically validated interventions addressing childhood psychological problems are now readily available, but success likely depends in part on accurately identifying which children will benefit from which intervention. This pilot study examined the stress activation and response system, first as a way to differentiate high versus low-risk children, and second to explore indicators of the stress system associated with favorable intervention response. Method. Participants (N = 43, 58% male) were school-aged children who qualified for inclusion in the Early Risers “Skills for Success” Prevention Program based on their elevated levels of aggressive and/or socially withdrawn behavior and a normally developing comparison group. Compared to the normally developing group, children who were participants in the intervention exhibited a more blunted cortisol response to the stress paradigm. However, for the children in the intervention group, elevated cortisol levels at the start of the stress paradigm were concurrently associated with internalizing problems and predictive of improvement in internalizing problems over time. These findings provide preliminary evidence that hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis biological variables may be helpful tools for identifying children who would benefit from intervention and personalizing interventions.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Article number361
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

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Cortisol
Hydrocortisone
Flow fields
Chemical activation
activation
risers
Switzerland
inclusions
Psychology

Keywords

  • Children
  • Cortisol
  • HPA axis
  • Intervention
  • Personalization
  • Prevention

Cite this

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title = "A pilot study of stress system activation in children enrolled in a targeted prevention program: Implications for personalization",
abstract = "Empirically validated interventions addressing childhood psychological problems are now readily available, but success likely depends in part on accurately identifying which children will benefit from which intervention. This pilot study examined the stress activation and response system, first as a way to differentiate high versus low-risk children, and second to explore indicators of the stress system associated with favorable intervention response. Method. Participants (N = 43, 58{\%} male) were school-aged children who qualified for inclusion in the Early Risers “Skills for Success” Prevention Program based on their elevated levels of aggressive and/or socially withdrawn behavior and a normally developing comparison group. Compared to the normally developing group, children who were participants in the intervention exhibited a more blunted cortisol response to the stress paradigm. However, for the children in the intervention group, elevated cortisol levels at the start of the stress paradigm were concurrently associated with internalizing problems and predictive of improvement in internalizing problems over time. These findings provide preliminary evidence that hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis biological variables may be helpful tools for identifying children who would benefit from intervention and personalizing interventions.",
keywords = "Children, Cortisol, HPA axis, Intervention, Personalization, Prevention",
author = "Bonnie Klimes-Dougan and Klingbeil, {David A.} and Alaa Houri and Cullen, {Kathryn R.} and Meredith Gunlicks-Stoessel and Gerald August",
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AU - August,Gerald

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