Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High Credit Card Debt May Be Bad For Your Health, Study Suggests

Date:
March 6, 2000
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
High levels of credit card debt and debt stress may be bad for a person's health, a new study suggests. Researchers at Ohio State University found that people who reported higher levels of stress about their debt showed higher levels of physical impairment and also reported worse health than those with lower levels of debt.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - High levels of credit card debt and debt stress may be bad for a person's health, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that people who reported higher levels of stress about their debt showed higher levels of physical impairment and also reported worse health than those with lower levels of debt.

In addition, people with a higher proportion of their income tied up in credit card debt also showed higher levels of physical impairment.

The study was based on two separate telephone surveys involving a total of 1,036 Ohioans.

"Any one of us who has debt knows that it can cause stress in our lives, and it makes sense that this stress may be bad for our health," said Prof. Paul J. Lavrakas, co-author of the study and director of Ohio State's Center for Survey Research.

"The stress of owing money, and knowledge that we're paying high interest rates, may lead to increased stress resulting in worsening health."

While the results are not surprising, Lavrakas said "as far as we know, we're the first to actually look at the connection between credit card debt and health."

Lavrakas conducted the study with Patricia Drentea, a former graduate student at Ohio State who is now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Their results were published in the February 2000 issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.

The researchers noted that the effect of credit card debt on health was not large when compared to factors such as age and education and specific health measures such as weight and tobacco use. But the association between debt and health remained strong and significant even after factors such as age and income were taken into account.

"We found that credit card debt and debt stress are good ways of tapping into how socio-economic factors affect health," Drentea said. "Researchers have long known that income, education and occupation are key socio-economic factors related to health. This research provides additional measures that will help us see a more complete picture."

In the study, the researchers used two different measures of health. They asked respondents to rate their own health on a scale of very poor to very good. They also used a standard scale of physical impairment, which asked respondents to rate how difficult it was for them to do everyday activities such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries.

These health measures were then compared to responses on a debt stress index. This index, designed by Lavrakas, asked participants how much they worried about their total debt. The study found a strong relationship between debt stress and health.

In addition, the health indicators were compared to a variety of measures related to actual credit card debt, including the number of charge cards the participants used, and whether they carried a balance from month to month. However, the findings showed that the only factor related to health was the ratio of credit card debt the participants owed to their total family income.

"This ratio is a more accurate measure of economic hardship than income alone because it taps into whether people are living within their means," Lavrakas said. "Two people may have the same income, but if one is deeper in debt, that person will probably be under more stress and have more health-related problems."

Debt stress may be particularly important because the study showed it plays a role in health over and above the debt-income ratio, Lavrakas said. In other words, the amount of debt a person has and their debt stress play an additive role, each contributing to worsening health.

The researchers also examined whether the fact that African Americans are more likely to have bigger debts and more debt stress may contribute to the fact that they also tend to be in poorer health than many whites. However, the study found no such relationship. Lavrakas said more research is needed to explore this finding.

The study was funded by grants from the Ohio State College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and by the Columbus Dispatch and WBNS-TV in Columbus.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "High Credit Card Debt May Be Bad For Your Health, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000306075256.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2000, March 6). High Credit Card Debt May Be Bad For Your Health, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000306075256.htm
Ohio State University. "High Credit Card Debt May Be Bad For Your Health, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000306075256.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins