Financial problems and health: can we make lifestyle interventions more effective by targeting financial scarcity?

People with a low income and a practical education have a bad health earlier in life and die younger than their wealthier and theoretically educated counterparts. Lifestyle interventions are generally considered an important tool to promote healthy behavior. However, traditional lifestyle interventions have not yet incorporated new insights on financial scarcity. Having to make ends meet with little money makes behavior change and healthy choices all the more challenging. This research project aims to investigate whether lifestyle interventions get more effective when the effects of financial scarcity are taken into account.


This project aims to improve the health of people with financial problems and to reduce the health divide within the Dutch society. 


This project will result in several scientific articles, articles in professional magazines, a handbook for professionals working in the health and social domain, and a handbook for universities, as well as a contribution to the book ‘Stress-sensitive work’. 


09 January 2021 - 09 January 2031


The study consists of a literature review on the relation between financial scarcity and health and lifestyle, a cohort study on financial scarcity and perceived health and lifestyle, desk research and focus groups on the application of insights into financial scarcity in existing lifestyle interventions, a quasi-experimental study on the effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention that incorporates working elements targeting financial scarcity, and lastly focus groups on the working elements of the adapted lifestyle intervention. 

Impact on education

A good health can contribute to solving financial problems and vice versa. By designing lifestyle interventions in a way that people with financial problems can more easily participate and successfully complete these interventions, they can accomplish their health goals. 

HU researcher involved in the research

  • Tamara Madern | Professor | Debt and Debt Collection
    Tamara Madern
    • Professor
    • Research group: Debt and Debt Collection

Related research groups

Collaboration with knowledge partners