Background: This paper aimed to identify whether high psychological distress is associated with an increased risk of income and multidimensional poverty amongst older adults in Australia.
Methods: We undertook longitudinal analysis of the nationally representative Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australian (HILDA) survey using modified Poisson regression models to estimate the relative risk of falling into income poverty and multidimensional poverty between 2010 and 2012 for males and females, adjusting for age, employment status, place of residence, marital status and housing tenure; and Population Attributable Risk methodology to estimate the proportion of poverty directly attributable to psychological distress, measured by the Kessler 10 scale.
Results: For males, having high psychological distress increased the risk of falling into income poverty by 1.68 (95% CI: 1.02 to 2.75) and the risk of falling into multidimensional poverty by 3.40 (95% CI: 1.91 to 6.04). For females, there was no significant difference in the risk of falling into income poverty between those with high and low psychological distress (p = 0.1008), however having high psychological distress increased the risk of falling into multidimensional poverty by 2.15 (95% CI: 1.30 to 3.55). Between 2009 and 2012, 8.0% of income poverty cases for people aged 65 and over (95% CI: 7.8% to 8.4%), and 19.5% of multidimensional poverty cases for people aged 65 and over (95% CI: 19.2% to 19.9%) can be attributed to high psychological distress.
Conclusions: The elevated risk of falling into income and multidimensional poverty has been an overlooked cost of poor mental health.
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- Longitudinal analysis