Basic needs, stress and the effects of tailored health communication in vulnerable populations

Health Educ Res. 2015 Aug;30(4):591-8. doi: 10.1093/her/cyv033.


This study examined whether unmet basic needs (food, housing, personal and neighborhood safety, money for necessities) and perceived stress affect recall of and response to a tailored print intervention one month later. Participants (N = 372) were adults who had called 2-1-1 Missouri between June 2010 and June 2012. A series of path analyses using Mplus were conducted to explore the relationships among basic needs, perceived stress, number of health referrals received in a tailored intervention, recalling the intervention and contacting a health referral. Participants were mainly women (85%) and African-American (59%) with a mean age of 42.2 years (SD = 13.3; range 19-86); 41% had annual household income <$10 000. Unmet basic needs were positively associated with increased levels of perceived stress, which, in turn, were negatively associated with recalling the intervention and calling any of the health referrals provided. Tailored printed interventions may be less effective in populations with acute unmet basic needs. More broadly, the effectiveness of minimal contact behavioral interventions might be enhanced by simultaneous efforts to address unmet basic needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Communication / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Missouri
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Vulnerable Populations / ethnology
  • Vulnerable Populations / psychology*