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Journal Article


Ostberg V, Låftman SB, Modin B, Lindfors P. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018; 15(2): e15020354.


Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


(Copyright © 2018, MDPI: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)






Bullying involves repeated exposure to negative actions while also invoking a power asymmetry between the involved parties. From a stress perspective, being bullied can be seen as a severe and chronic stressor, and an everyday social-evaluative threat, coupled with a shortage of effective social resources for dealing with this particular stressor. The aim of this study was to investigate whether exposure to bullying among mid-adolescent girls and boys is associated with subjective and objective stress-related outcomes in terms of perceived stress, recurrent pain, and salivary cortisol. The data came from the School Stress and Support Study (TriSSS) including students in grades 8–9 in two schools in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010 (study sample n = 392; cortisol subsample n = 198). Bullying was self-reported and measured by multiple items. The statistical analyses included binary logistic and linear (OLS) regression. Being bullied was associated with greater perceived stress and an increased risk of recurrent pain, among both boys and girls. Also, bullied students had lower cortisol output (AUCG) and lower cortisol awakening response (CARG) as compared to those who were not bullied. Gender-stratified analyses demonstrated that these associations were statistically significant for boys but not for girls. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that being bullied was related to both subjective and objective stress markers among mid-adolescent girls and boys, pointing to the necessity of continuously working against bullying.

Keywords: adolescents; bullying; cortisol; stress; victimization

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Language: en


adolescents; bullying; cortisol; stress; victimization


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