Hair cortisol and work stress: Importance of workload and stress model (JDCS or ERI)

Leander van der Meij*, Nikkie Gubbels, Jaap Schaveling, Mercedes Almela, Mark van Vugt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Hair cortisol concentrations (HCCs) are a potential physiological indicator of work related stress. However, studies that tested the relationship between HCC and self-reported stress in a work setting show mixed findings. This may be because few studies used worker samples that experience prolonged stress. Therefore, we compared a high workload sample (n = 81) and a normal workload sample (n = 91) and studied whether HCC was related to: (i) high job demands, low control, and low social support (JDCS model), and (ii) high effort, low reward, and high overcommitment (ERI model). Results showed that self-reported stress related to HCC only in the high workload sample and only for the variables of the ERI model. We found that HCC was higher when effort was high, reward low, and overcommitment high. An implication of this study is that a certain stress threshold may need to be reached to detect a relationship between self-reported stress and physiological measures such as HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-85
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortisol
  • ERI
  • HCC
  • HPA
  • JDCS
  • Self-reported stress


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