The Psychosocial Context of Financial Stress: Implications for Inflammation and Psychological Health

John A. Sturgeon, Anne Arewasikporn, Morris A. Okun, Mary Davis, Anthony D. Ong, Alex J. Zautra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Psychological distress may contribute to chronic activation of acute-phase inflammation. The current study investigated how financial stressors influence psychosocial functioning and inflammation. This study examined a) the direct relations between financial stress and inflammation; b) whether the relationships between financial stress and inflammation are mediated in part by negative interpersonal events, psychological distress, and psychological well-being; and c) whether social standing in oneʼs community moderates the relations between financial stress and psychological distress, psychological well-being, and markers of inflammation (interleukin-6 [IL-6] and C-reactive protein). METHODS: Stressful financial and interpersonal events over the previous year, perceived social status, indices of psychological well-being and distress, and levels of IL-6 and C-reactive protein were assessed in a community sample of 680 middle-aged adults (ages 40–65 years). RESULTS: Structural equation modeling analyses revealed significant relations among financial stress, interpersonal stress, and psychological distress and well-being, and complex relationships between these variables and inflammatory markers. Psychological well-being mediated the association between financial stress and IL-6 ([mediation] ab = 0.012, standard error [SE] = 0.006, p = .048). Furthermore, individuals with higher perceived social standing within their communities exhibited a stronger relation between negative financial events and both interpersonal stressors (interaction B = 0.067, SE = 0.017, p <.001) and C-reactive protein (interaction B = 0.051, SE = 0.026, p = .050). CONCLUSIONS: Financial stress demonstrates complex relations with inflammation, due partly to psychological well-being and social perceptions. Findings are discussed with regard to the social context of stress and physiological factors pertinent to stress adaptation and inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Nov 13 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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