People living in low-socioeconomic (SES) circumstances are at increased risk for a number of detrimental physical and mental health outcomes, including depression (e.g., Lorant et al., 2003). Although numerous studies confirm the link between SES and depressive symptoms, the mechanisms underlying this association are not clear. What are the factors that explain the disparity in mental health outcomes across levels of SES? The long-term goal of the current research is to address this question. In addition to lacking material resources, low-SES individuals are also more likely to be lacking interpersonal resources compared to more affluent individuals: low-income individuals are less likely to be married, more likely to be in distressed relationships, and less likely to have social support resources (e.g., Conger et al., 1990; White & Rogers, 2000). The current research proposes that this lack of interpersonal resources can help to explain the association between SES and depressive symptoms. Using a large random probability survey dataset (N = 6,012) that oversampled for low-SES individuals and racial/ethnic minorities, the current application will test a mediation model that will help shed light on mental health disparities.
The first aim of this research is to explore the mechanisms underlying the association between SES and depressive symptoms, by examining interpersonal factors as potential mediators of this association. As part of this goal, I will examine if interpersonal resources are especially important buffering factors for individuals who are lacking in material resources.
The second aim of this research is to evaluate the relative importance of each interpersonal factor (e.g., would it be more helpful to target the amount of social support available to low-SES individuals or promote relationship skills?).
The third aim i s to examine if the proposed model differs by race/ethnicity. The findings from this research have important public health implications. The proposed model suggests that programs that strengthen low-SES individuals' interpersonal resources (e.g., relationship satisfaction, social support resources) would be a promising avenue for future public health interventions. The proposed research will also provide much-needed data to inform current policies that target interpersonal factors in low-SES populations (e.g., the Healthy Marriage Initiative, 2005). By addressing interpersonal resources in a diverse sample, this study will inform policy-makers seeking alternative routes to promote mental health and reduce depression in disadvantaged communities. ? ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F11-B (20))
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Hill, Lauren D
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University of California Los Angeles
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Los Angeles
United States
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