Social, environmental stress in indigenous populations: Potential biopsychosocial mechanisms

Mark Daniel, Kerin O'Dea, Kevin G. Rowley, Robyn McDermott, Shona Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The correlation of stress and socioeconomic status with health status is well documented, but our understanding of the mechanisms by which these affect health is limited. Social environmental stress is of two forms. Systemic stress, specific to social group experiences, reflects inequalities and imbalance in society, linking lived experience to health status. Random stress operates with similar probability across all social groups, linking individual-level experiences (e.g., divorce) to health status. Indigenous populations are susceptible to systemic stress."Westernization" , the process by which traditional societies are exposed to and made dependent on modern ways of living or external resources inconsistent with traditional patterns, could be inherently stressful for indigenous people. Westernization may affect health not only through shifts in diet and activity patterns, but by neurodoctrine reactions to psychogenic stress. Glycated hemoglobin A 1c (HbA 1c ), elevated by catecholamine-mediated increases in blood glucose, is a practical biomaker of stress. We tested the hypothesis that HbA 1c concentrations are greater in indigenous than in westernized populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-423
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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