Perceived stigma and health-related quality of life in the working uninsured: Does thwarted belongingness play a role?

The extent to which individuals perceive stigma from others and internalize stigmatizing beliefs is increasingly recognized as a contributor to psychological and physical distress. Individuals in poverty may feel increasingly stigmatized as a result of financial hardship; however, little research has examined the linkage of financial stigma to health outcomes, nor the potential underlying explanatory mechanisms of such an association. According to self-determination theory, loss of social capital, which often occurs when a person is stigmatized, may deleteriously affect health outcomes, yet this premise has not been tested. We assessed the incremental impact of sociodemographic characteristics, and experienced and internalized financial stigma, on health-related quality of life (HRQL), as well as the mediating effect of belongingness, in a sample of 100 working, uninsured primary care patients. Results confirmed that experienced and internalized perceived stigma contributed additional variance, over the effects of sociodemographic factors, to poor HRQL, and belongingness was a significant mediator. Financial stigma may increase isolation, reducing opportunities for meaningful social connections, thereby deleteriously impacting mental and physical health outcomes. Therapeutically addressing stigma, and bolstering social connectedness, may improve HRQL in the underserved and impoverished. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)