Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Advisor

Ro Di Brezzo

Committee Member

Michelle Gray

Second Committee Member

Inza Fort

Third Committee Member

Tyrone Washington

Fourth Committee Member

Sean Mulveneon

Keywords

Health and environmental sciences; Aerobic fitnese; Cortisol; Perceived stress; Stress biomarkers; University administrators

Abstract

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of perceived stress and cardiorespiratory fitness on cortisol and HbA1c, biomarkers of stress, in a group of select university administrators. The impact of gender on these relationships was of special concern. METHODS: University administrators with job titles of Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellors and Vice Provosts of the university, and Deans and Associate Deans at the college level were recruited. Twenty-five administrators (15 males and 10 females) agreed to participate and completed a battery of assessments that included completion of the University Administrative Concerns Questionnaire, a finger-stick blood test for HbA1c, estimation of cardiorespiratory fitness, and analysis of salivary cortisol over the course of two days. Data were analyzed using a series of unpaired t-tests to examine gender differences in the variables of interest. The relationships between variables were examined separately for the genders using multiple regression analyses. RESULTS: The results of the gender comparisons revealed that men and women scored similarly on the variables of perceived administrative stress, t (23) = 0.50 p = .62, cardiorespiratory fitness, t (23) = -1.28 p = .21, and HbA1c, t (23) = -0.57 p = .57. However there was a significant difference for cortisol AUC, t (23) = -3.00 p = .0064, with males having significantly greater cortisol concentrations. The effect sizes for these analyses were small to moderate, except for cortisol AUC, where a large (d = 1.22) effect was found. The results of the multiple regression analyses indicated that neither cortisol AUC or HbA1c were significantly predicted by perceived stress and cardiorespiratory fitness in either gender. However, prediction of HbA1c for females did account for a promising 42% of the variance, with fitness accounting for more of variability than perceived stress. Despite the lack of predictive power, the analyses revealed several gender differences in the magnitude and direction of the correlations between variables. This indicates that despite similar mean values for stress and fitness related variables, the relationships between the variables may be different for men and women, warranting further research.

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