Change in Health-Related Socioeconomic Risk Factors and Mental Health during the Early Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A National Survey of U.S. Women

Stacy Tessler Lindau*, Jennifer A. Makelarski, Kelly Boyd, Kate E. Doyle, Sadia Haider, Shivani Kumar, Nita Karnik Lee, El Pinkerton, Marie Tobin, Milkie Vu, Kristen E. Wroblewski, Ernst Lengyel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: During a pandemic, women may be especially vulnerable to secondary health problems driven by its social and economic effects. We examined the relationship between changes in health-related socioeconomic risks (HRSRs) and mental health. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 3,200 women aged 18-90 years was conducted in April 2020 using a quota-based sample from a national panel (88% cooperation rate). Patterns of change in HRSRs (food insecurity, housing instability, interpersonal violence, and difficulties with utilities and transportation) were described. Weighted, multivariate logistic regression was used to model the odds of depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress symptoms among those with and without incident or worsening HRSRs. Results: More than 40% of women had one or more prepandemic HRSRs. In the early pandemic phase, 49% of all women, including 29% with no prepandemic HRSRs, had experienced incident or worsening HRSRs. By April 2020, the rates of depression and anxiety were twice that of prepandemic benchmarks (29%); 17% of women had symptoms of traumatic stress. The odds of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms were two to three times higher among women who reported at least one incident or worsening HRSR; this finding was similar for women with and without prepandemic HRSRs. Conclusions: Increased health-related socioeconomic vulnerability among U.S. women early in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was prevalent and associated with alarmingly high rates of mental health problems. Pandemic-related mental health needs are likely to be much greater than currently available resources, especially for vulnerable women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-513
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • disparities
  • health behaviors
  • mental health
  • social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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