Background: Psychological disorders arising from bullying at work (BW) are common. The relationship between these disorders and putative markers is not well established.
Aims: To measure saliva dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) and saliva cortisol as putative markers in individuals suffering from BW.
Methods: Forty one subjects suffering from BW were screened for mental distress at the institute of occupational health in Clermont-Ferrand, France. They were compared with 28 psychologically healthy controls (group C). The conditions causing BW were recorded. The hospital anxiety and depression (HAD) scale, the Beech questionnaire and the visual analogic scale (VAS) of stress were used to determine the psychological consequences of BW. Saliva samples were collected at awakening (7 am), 30 and 60 min after awakening, and then every 2 h until bed time (11 pm).
Results: The BW group had significantly higher scores on the HAD scale, higher stress on the VAS, and a higher score on the Beech questionnaire. They also had a significantly higher saliva concentration of DHEAS. There was no significant difference between groups in cortisol levels at any time, nor in area under the curve (AUC) and cortisol awakening response (CAR). There was a significant positive correlation between HAD and VAS scores and DHEAS levels, but not between cortisol levels or AUC or CAR.
Conclusion: In contrast to saliva cortisol levels, saliva DHEAS levels are modified after psychological distress arising from BW. This discrepancy probably arises from the stability conferred by the very long half life of DHEAS of about 15 h.
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