Numerous studies document the inverse relationship between socioeconomic status and health. The recent economic recession provides an opportunity to examine the relationship between temporal declines in financial status and health outcomes.
We assessed the association of financial decline with health indicators at the individual level with data from 733 adult participants in a countywide survey conducted in Spring 2009. We included general health and mental health items from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI-18) depression subscale, and Perceived Stress Scale. Analysis was conducted in 2011.
The degree to which an individuals financial situation declined over the past year was associated with worse self-reported general and mental health, increased number of days that poor general and mental health interfered with daily activities in the past month, as well as higher levels of self-reported stress and depressive symptoms. These relationships were independent of education, income, age, gender and minority status.
Our results indicate that a decline in financial status is associated with a decline in self-reported physical and mental health quality independent of traditional demographic and socioeconomic indicators.
Key words: Economic recession, economic adversity, socioeconomic status, health status