Stress. 2020 Sep;23(5):519-528. doi: 10.1080/10253890.2020.1784136. Epub 2020 Jul 3.
Allostatic load (AL) is the manifestation of cumulative responses to chronic stress exposure. Numerous studies have shown the importance of AL in understanding disease risks. Yet little is known about existing interventions that target AL specifically. We aimed to address this gap by identifying interventions targeting AL and determining the success of these interventions in improving biological functioning. We searched five electronic databases using variations of two concepts: AL and programs or interventions. We included original research reports that focused on AL as an outcome. We excluded work that focused on a single indicator, not written in English or did not implement an intervention. The Template for Intervention Description and Replication checklist guided our intervention critique and synthesis. Six articles were included, with sample size across the interventions ranging between 2 and 733. Despite inconsistencies in the selection of AL indicators and scoring of AL, all four body systems were represented in all the studies. Four interventions showed significant improvement in Al (as indicated by a decrease in AL score) as early as 7 weeks. More interventions targeting Al are needed. The reduction in AL scores among four of the six interventions suggests that Al could be a biological outcome measure that is sensitive to change in response to interventions. This has significant clinical and research implications. Future studies are needed to examine whether AL serves as a mediator in the effects of the intervention on improving clinical manifestations of diseases.