As an expert in the psychobiological causes and consequences of stress you have been appointed as the Director of Research at a stress management company. The company is uniquely placed to provide consultancy services using both contemporary empirical evidence and well established methodologies.
A local council have identified that their employees are concerned about stress and its effect on their health. In addition, a senior manager has recently read a magazine article about the role of the stress hormone cortisol and is wondering whether it would be useful to measure levels of this hormone in her council staff.
As Director of Research you have been asked to prepare a report for the senior manager concerning the causes and consequences of stress and make recommendations regarding the most appropriate techniques for measuring stress in her staff. The report should explain the mechanisms and functions of cortisol secretion and use published empirical work to explain its relationships to psychosocial stress and health to support your recommendations to the client. In the preparation of your report you have access to previously collected data, published empirical research and a good knowledge of a range of techniques used in the assessment of stress. Although using scientific evidence you should remember that the report is intended for a non-scientific, but well-educated audience so it should take the form of a report rather than an essay (see format of report below)
The assignment should take the form of a report for the intended client rather than an essay. Although there is no fixed format for the style of this report, it must contain the following;
The Role of Cortisol in Stress & Health
Explain the role of cortisol, its mechanism of action and its measurable components.
A critical evaluation of the evidence to demonstrate how these components are related to psychosocial stress and health.
Provide relevant illustrative figure(s) to demonstrate these measurable components to the client. You can use the data provided to help you or create figure(s) yourself – the most important consideration is that they support the text and help the client to understand the indices you are describing.
Based on the evidence you present develop a protocol for the measurement of stress that would be appropriate for the council employees. The protocol should include supported recommendations regarding the type, number, and timing of samples, and details of other information that should be collected or controlled.
Although an overall mark will be given for the report, parts of the report are weighted to reflect their relative contribution. As a guide:
The Role of Cortisol in Stress & Health 60%
Illustrative Figure(s) 20%
Recommended Protocol 20%
Module learning outcomes to be assessed
1. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the key biological mechanisms relevant to stress-disease pathways and how these systems interact
2. Critically evaluate key psychobiological studies from both methodological and theoretical perspectives and understand their context within the discipline of Health Psychology
3. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the practical requirements and restrictions pertaining to the measurement of psychobiological mechanisms
4. Effectively convey relevant scientific knowledge to stakeholders in a real world setting
5. Balance scientific rigour with innovation in practice and ethical restraints
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