Self-Regulatory Coping Behaviors and Stress Reactivity: Exploring the Environmental Affordance Model of Health Disparities

J Aging Health. 2022 Jun;34(3):307-319. doi: 10.1177/08982643221085403. Epub 2022 Apr 18.


Objectives: To explore the relationship between self-regulatory coping behaviors (SRCB) and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) stress reactivity.

Methods: Data came from the Richmond Stress and Sugar Study (n=125, median age: 57 years, 46% non-Hispanic White, 48% African American). The relationships between 11 SRCB ("health-harming" [e.g., smoking] and "health-promoting" [e.g., exercising]) with HPA stress reactivity, indicated by salivary cortisol response to the Trier Social Stress Test, was assessed using multi-level modeling.

Results: Health-harming and health-promoting SRCB were positively correlated (+0.33, p<0.001). Several individual behaviors were related to HPA stress reactivity, for example, smoking and meditation were associated with shallower increases in cortisol (smoking: -13.0%, 95%CI: -20.9% to -4.3%; meditation: -14.0%, 95%CI: -22.0% to -5.1%). However, SRCB summary measures were unrelated to stress reactivity.

Discussion: Health-harming and health-promoting SRCB are inter-related. Specific behaviors, rather than groupings as health-harming versus -promoting, are related to HPA stress reactivity.

Keywords: HPA-axis; biopsychosocial; coping; disparities; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System* / physiology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System* / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological


  • Hydrocortisone