Social support at work, heart rate, and cortisol: a self-monitoring study

J Occup Health Psychol. 2001 Oct;6(4):361-70.


This study assessed the influence of work social support on self-monitored heart rate, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol recorded on 3 work days and 2 leisure days from 61 nurses and 32 accountants (40 men, 53 women). Heart rate and blood pressure were higher during the day at work than in the evening or on leisure days. Cortisol was higher on leisure than work days and was lower in the evening than in the day. Low social support at work was associated with elevated heart rate during the daytime and evening of work days, an effect that persisted after controlling for psychological distress, age, sex, smoking, and physical activity. Work social support was not related to cortisol on work days, but on leisure days cortisol was elevated among individuals reporting high social support. There were few differences between men and women, and no important occupational effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accounting
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Leisure Activities / psychology
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory*
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Hydrocortisone