Original Research

Translational Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 104-113

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

  • Jennifer L WalshAffiliated withCenters for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, The Miriam HospitalDepartment of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School, Brown University Email author 
  • , Theresa E SennAffiliated withCenters for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, The Miriam HospitalDepartment of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School, Brown University
  • , Michael P CareyAffiliated withCenters for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, The Miriam HospitalDepartment of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School, Brown UniversityDepartment of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Program in Public Health, Brown University

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ABSTRACT

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.

KEYWORDS

Health behavior Mental health Depression Anxiety Perceived stress