Household Food Insufficiency, Financial Strain, Work-Family Spillover, and Depressive Symptoms in the Working Class: The Work, Family, and Health Network Study

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Abstract

Objectives

We evaluated the association of household-level stressors with depressive symptoms among low-wage nursing home employees.

Methods

Data were collected in 2006 and 2007 from 452 multiethnic primary and nonprimary wage earners in 4 facilities in Massachusetts. We used logistic regression to estimate the association of depressive symptoms with household financial strain, food insufficiency, and work-family spillover (preoccupation with work-related concerns while at home and vice versa).

Results

Depressive symptoms were significantly associated with household financial strain (odds ratio [OR] = 1.82; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.03, 3.21) and food insufficiency (OR = 2.10; 95% CI = 1.10, 4.18). Among primary earners, stratified analyses showed that food insufficiency was associated with depressive symptoms (OR = 3.60; 95% CI = 1.42, 9.11) but financial strain was not. Among nonprimary wage earners, depressive symptoms correlated with financial strain (OR = 3.65; 95% CI = 1.48, 9.01) and work-family spillover (OR = 3.22; 95% CI = 1.11, 9.35).

Conclusions

Household financial strain, food insufficiency, and work-family spillover are pervasive problems for working populations, but associations vary by primary wage earner status. The prevalence of food insufficiency among full-time employees was striking and might have a detrimental influence on depressive symptoms and the health of working-class families.

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