This article was originally published here
Popul Health Manag. 2021 Oct 14. doi: 10.1089/pop.2021.0214. Online ahead of print.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disproportionate suffering among vulnerable and socioeconomically disadvantaged portions of the population. Low-income and minority populations are likely to experience disparate disease and mental health burdens. Currently, there is little evidence regarding how the experience of the early months of the US COVID-19 outbreak differed by income level, and how that related to mental health symptoms. The present study used data from a national sample of US adults (n = 5023) who completed measures related to the COVID experience, the COVID-19 Fear Scale, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), and the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 (PHQ-8). Multivariable regression was performed to determine whether income level (low: <$45,000 vs high: ≥$75,000) was significantly associated with COVID experience measures, PHQ-8, GAD-7, and COVID fear scores. Among the low-income group, COVID-19 had a significantly greater negative impact on: family income/employment, access to food, access to mental health treatment, and stress and discord in the family. Participants in the low-income group also had greater odds of a PHQ-8 score ≥10 (odds ratio [OR] = 1.38, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08, 1.77) and a GAD-7 score ≥10 (OR = 1.65, 95% CI 1.27, 2.14) compared to those in the high-income group. Study findings suggest substantial differences in how COVID-19 impacted daily life and mental health between adults living in low-income households compared to high-earning households during the early months of the pandemic.