Are credit scores and financial well-being associated with physical health?

Julie Birkenmaier, Euijin Jung, Stephen McMillin, Zhengmin Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Consumer credit score has been used as an indicator of financial strain that could potentially impact health. Subjective financial well-being, or one’s feelings about one’s expectations, preferences, and satisfaction with their financial situation, is related to financial strain. This study examined whether subjective financial well-being mediates the association between credit score and self-reported physical health in a national representative sample. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), we test whether a mediating association exists between self-rated credit score and self-rated physical health. Results suggest that, after controlling for sociodemographic variables, those who reported higher credit scores have better health (β = 0.175, p <.001) and higher financial well-being (β = 0.469, p <.001), and those who reported higher financial well-being have better health (β = 0.265, p <.001). The mediation effect of financial well-being on the association between credit and physical health is also positive and statistically significant (β = 0.299, p <.001). Thus, subjective feelings about one’s financial situation would enhance the observed positive association between credit and health. Practice and policy implications are included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-178
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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