Objective: The study investigated the associations between self-rated financial strain and overall diurnal salivary cortisol levels, as well as secretory patterns among long-term unemployed individuals.
Methods: Psychosocial and life-style variables were assessed by means of questionnaires among 85 participants (mean age 42+/-9 years; 56% females). Salivary cortisol was sampled on four occasions during a 24-hour period and data was analysed separately for men and women.
Results: Among females, high financial strain was related to higher overall cortisol levels, and to elevated levels in the evening. These associations did not reach significance among men. Multivariate analyses showed that evening levels of cortisol were positively associated with financial strain, but largely unrelated to life-style variables and psychological distress.
Conclusions: The results suggest that high financial strain influences the diurnal cortisol secretion of unemployed individuals in terms of elevated cortisol levels in the evening. The mediating mechanisms are in need of further investigation.