Families living in poverty face numerous stressors that threaten the health and well-being of family members. This study examined the relationships among family-level poverty-related stress (PRS), individual-level coping with PRS, and a wide range of psychological symptoms in an ethnically diverse sample of 98 families (300 family members) living at or below 150% of the federal poverty line. Hierarchical linear model (HLM) analyses revealed that family PRS is robustly related to a wide range of psychological syndromes for family members of both genders, all ages, and all ethnic backgrounds. In addition, primary and secondary control coping were both found to serve as buffers of PRS for many syndromes. For several psychological syndromes, parents showed significantly higher levels of symptoms, but the link between PRS and symptoms was significantly stronger for children than for adults. Ethnicity was not a significant predictor in overall HLM models or follow-up analyses, suggesting that the broad construct of PRS and the theoretical model tested here apply across the 3 major ethnic groups included in this study. The findings suggest that family-based, coping-focused interventions have the potential to promote resiliency and break linkages in the pernicious cycle of family economic stress.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health