BACKGROUND: It's indicated negative-perceived stress could induce worse health status and change of cortisol secretion.
OBJECTIVES: To assess salivary cortisol levels in two occupations with a high psychosocial workload, but different features, teachers and firefighters.
METHODS: The study population consisted of 142 school teachers and 136 firefighters. Four saliva samples were collected from pedagogical participants during their busiest workday. The cortisol measures used were: morning values, evening values, slope of decline, ratio (evening value divided by morning value), and area under the curve (AUC).
RESULTS: The salivary cortisol measurements in both genders were almost equal regarding morning values, slope, and AUC increase. Evening values were lower and the relative reactivity was higher (lower ratio) for female teachers, compared to male teachers. There was a tendency of a lower total daytime output of cortisol (AUC ground) among female teachers. Firefighters had lower levels of cortisol, lower total daytime output, and higher relative reactivity (lower ratio), but lower absolute reactivity, regarding both slope and AUC increase.
CONCLUSION: Overall, male teachers might be the group most affected by stress in this study, even if some of their cortisol values were almost equal to the female teachers' values. Male teachers also seemed to be more affected by stress, according to salivary cortisol, compared to male firefighters, even if there were some inconsistencies.