Psychological factors associated with financial hardship and mental health: A systematic review

Frankham, C., Richardson, T., Maguire, N.

A review of the literature investigating the role of psychological factors in the relationship between financial hardship and mental health was completed. The review sought to identify which factors have been most consistently and reliably indicated, and the mechanisms by which these factors are proposed to contribute to the association between hardship and mental health. Although the review identified that a broad variety of factors have been investigated, skills related to personal agency, self-esteem and coping were most frequently and reliably associated with the relationship between financial hardship and mental health outcomes. Just over half of the studies reviewed concluded that the psychological factor investigated was either eroded by financial hardship, increasing vulnerability to mental health difficulties, or protected mental health by remaining intact despite the effects of financial hardship. The remaining studies found no such effect or did not analyse their data in a manner in which a mechanism of action could be identified. The methodological quality of the research included in the review was variable. The valid and reliable measurement of financial hardship, and conclusions regarding causation due to the use of predominantly cross-sectional design were areas of particular weakness.

Health Condition(s): Mental health & mental illness
Year Published: 2020
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