Challenge tests are very important means to assess reactivity and endogenous activity of the HPA axis, and salivary cortisol represents one of the easiest and most informative endpoints of HPA activity.Basal measurements of cortisol at wakening and in the evening provide an estimate of the diurnal rhythm, and responses to morning wakening and the Trier Social Stress Test provide estimates of reactivity that reflect ongoing life stress as well as the intrinsic potential of the HPA axis to respond.
Behind the table sits a group of two or three people, who will be referred to as "the committee." On the table there is a cassette recorder that is connected to the microphone and a data protocol sheet in front of each committee member.back to top The experimenter (who first greeted the S) explains to the S that he/she will have to deliver a speech for a job application to the committee, for which he/she would have ten minutes to prepare. In addition, members of the committee would take notes regarding the manner and contents of the speech.Only after a pause of more than twenty seconds prior to the end of the five-minute period are questions asked, such as "What qualifies you in particular for this position?" After the five-minute-period the S is then informed by the committee chair about the second half of his/her task, with an instruction such as: "We now want you solve a calculation task.A PDF FAQs summary, Salivary Cortisol: Technical Issues written by Clemens Kirschbaum, is available. Therefore, all persons involved in the TSST (experimenters involved in the committee, introduction & post-test assessments and debriefing; see below) should be familiar with the exact procedure of this stress protocol.
In addition to a general description of the test, specific duties of various experimenters are listed in detail below.Obtaining saliva samples is extremely easy and can generally be performed by the subjects/patients themselves.Although there are several 'techniques' for saliva sampling, the easiest and most hygienic way is to collect saliva with the so called "Salivette" device (Sarstedt, Inc.).After ten minutes the S gives the first saliva sample. There, the S encounters the following experimental set-up: in the middle of the room is a microphone stand.At the other end of the room stands a video camera that is directed at the middle of the room with a table next to it.After ten minutes, an additional saliva sample is taken and the S is led back to experimental room #2.