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Financial distress and depressive symptoms among African American women: identifying financial priorities and needs and why it matters for mental health

Financial distress and depressive symptoms among African American women: identifying financial priorities and needs and why it matters for mental health

Journal of Urban Health 90(1): 83-100

Prior research found that financial hardship or distress is one of the most important underlying factors for depression/depressive symptoms, yet factors that contribute to financial distress remain unexplored or unaddressed. Given this, the goals of the present study were (1) to examine the relationship between perceived financial distress and depressive symptoms, and (2) to identify financial priorities and needs that may contribute to financial distress. Surveys from 111 African American women, ages 18-44, who reside in Allegheny County, PA, were used to gather demographic information and measures of depressive symptoms and financial distress/financial well-being. Correlation and regression analyses revealed that perceived financial distress was significantly associated with levels of depressive symptoms. To assess financial priorities and needs, responses to two open-ended questions were analyzed and coded for common themes: "Imagine you won a $10,000 prize in a local lottery. What would you do with this money?" and "What kinds of programs or other help would be beneficial to you during times of financial difficulties?" The highest five priorities identified by the participants were paying bills and debt, saving, purchasing a home or making home repairs, and/or helping others. The participant's perceived needs during times of financial difficulty included tangible assistance and/or financial education. The findings from this study can be used to create new and/or enhance existing programs, services, and/or interventions that focus on the identified financial priorities and needs. Collaborative efforts among professionals in different disciplines are also needed, as ways to manage and alleviate financial distress should be considered and discussed when addressing the mental health of African American women.

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Accession: 036565055

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PMID: 22930003

DOI: 10.1007/s11524-012-9755-x

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