The impact of financial scarcity on lifestyle

Socioeconomic health disparities are a persistent problem. Unhealthy lifestyle plays a major role. Interventions aimed at improving lifestyle have limited success. Obstructive situations of financial scarcity may form an explanation. Improving these interventions can bring a lot of health benefits. Perhaps the key to this lies in the approach aimed at behavioural change. That's what this PhD research is about.


It is expected that many (potential) participants of lifestyle interventions deal with financial scarcity and therefore experience chronic stress. Such situations have a negative impact on people’s executive functions in several respects. The behavioural change requested in lifestyle interventions is very difficult in these situations. Even though that is what the participants are asked to do: exercise more, eat more fruit and vegetables and stop smoking. Due to perceived pressure, lifestyle advice is difficult to follow. This study looks at how financial scarcity affects lifestyle and participating in lifestyle interventions.

This study also examines whether stress-sensitive working in lifestyle interventions helps to reduce financial scarcity and chronic stress. This contributes to knowledge about effective elements and their valorisation for more sustainable integrated lifestyle interventions. It responds to the call of the government and knowledge institutions to increase knowledge about determinants of socioeconomic health differences and the effectiveness of broader interventions among vulnerable groups.


During this PhD research and afterwards, the results will be shared through both scientific and practical publications. In preparation for this research, a literature study was carried out on the relationship between debt and health.



01 September 2021 - 01 September 2025


The research consists of three sub-studies. The first sub-study explores the problem. Financial scarcity is then examined in existing interventions and finally an existing intervention is adjusted, and its functioning tested. This provides more insight into what improves the health potential of people who experience financial scarcity, so that existing interventions can be adapted.

HU researcher involved in the research

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