Psychosocial and physiological stress among women leaving welfare

Document Type



Women receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) report more stress and have poorer health than women in the general population. Studies suggest chronic stress may contribute to poor health via physiological mechanisms, yet little is known about these mechanisms in this population. This study examined psychosocial stress, salivary cortisol, 24-hr ambulatory blood pressure and heart rate, and health among 40 single mothers before and after exiting TANF. As a group, perceived stress decreased after leaving TANF (p = .02), with other measures of psychosocial and physiological stress remaining unchanged. Within participants, changes in psychosocial stress predicted depression and general health over time (adjusted R 2 = .30 and .22; p = .006 and .004, respectively). These findings indicate psychosocial stress is positively associated with depression and negatively associated with general health as women exit welfare. Psychosocial stress was not associated with changes in physiologic indicators of stress.


Poor women; Public welfare; Stress (Psychology) – Health aspects; Women – Health and hygiene; Women's health; Welfare


Family Practice Nursing | Mental and Social Health | Nursing

Publisher Citation

Kneipp, S. M., Welch, D. P., Wood, C. E., Yucha, C. B., & Yarandi, H. (2007). Psychosocial and physiological stress among women leaving welfare. Western journal of nursing research, 29(7), 864-883

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