Mortgage Default Associated With Worse Health Status

Elevated incident depressive symptoms, food insecurity, cost-related medication nonadherence

TUESDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Falling behind in mortgage payments is correlated with elevated depressive symptoms, food insecurity, and cost-related medication nonadherence, according to a study published online Oct. 20 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Dawn E. Alley, Ph.D., from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues investigated the correlation between mortgage delinquency and changes in health and health-relevant resources over two years in individuals older than 50 years. In 2008, 2,474 participants from the Health and Retirement Study reported whether they had fallen behind on mortgage payments since 2006. Participants who fell behind on their mortgage payments were compared with those who did not for health changes (increase in incident depressive symptoms, major declines in self-rated health) and health-relevant resources (food, prescription medications), using logistic regression.

The investigators found that the mortgage-delinquent group had a worse health status and less access to health-relevant resources at baseline than the nondelinquent group. During the follow-up, the mortgage-delinquent group was also more likely to develop incident depressive symptoms (odds ratio [OR], 8.60), food insecurity (OR, 7.53), and medication nonadherence due to cost (OR, 8.66).

"Mortgage delinquency was associated with significant elevations in the incidence of mental health impairments and health-relevant material disadvantage. Widespread mortgage default may have important public health implications," the authors write.

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