, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 104-113
Date: 05 Feb 2013

Longitudinal associations between health behaviors and mental health in low-income adults

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Although there are established relationships between physical and mental health, few studies have explored the relationship between health behaviors and mental health over time. To explore rates of health-compromising behaviors (HCBs) and the longitudinal relationship between HCBs and depression, anxiety, and stress, five waves of data were collected over 1 year from 482 patients at an urban public health clinic (47 % female, 68 % African-American, M age = 28). Smoking (61 %), binge drinking (52 %), illegal drug use (53 %), unprotected sex with non-primary partners (55 %), and fast food consumption (71 %) were common, while consumption of fruits or vegetables (30 %) and breakfast (17 %) were rare. Cross-lagged models identified within-time associations between HCBs and depression/anxiety and stress. Additionally, depression/anxiety and stress predicted later HCBs, but HCBs did not predict later mental health. Results suggest that targeting mental health may be important to promoting improvements across multiple health behaviors.