Financial stress has adverse consequences for health. However, the association between individual and cumulative associations of multiple financial stressors and serious psychological distress (SPD) is unclear.
Using data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey, we examined cross-sectional associations between perceived financial worries, healthcare insecurity, food insecurity, and SPD among 23,317 US adults. Associations were examined using logistic regression.
Among US adults in 2017, the overall prevalence of SPD was 3.6%. Among those with SPD, 85.5% were financially worried, 50.3% were food insecure, and 51.2% were healthcare insecure. Financial worries (OR 4.27; CI 3.31, 5.52), food insecurity (OR 2.34; CI 1.92, 2.85), and healthcare insecurity (OR 2.26; CI 1.85, 2.76) were each associated with higher odds of SPD. A dose–response association was found between the number of stressors and SPD.
Each financial stressor was adversely associated with SPD both individually and cumulatively, indicating the adverse effects of the accumulation of these stressors. Additional studies are needed to understand the longitudinal effects of multiple financial stressors on mental health outcomes.