Publication Date

Spring 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Frederick Grieve (Director), Dr. Anthony Paquin, and Dr. Dawn Wright

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


It is widely supported that there are significant, positive relationships between the occurrence of some mental health symptoms and physical illnesses. Research indicates that the burden experienced by those with a physical and mental illness are magnified compared to individuals who do not experience an illness. More specifically, one of the burdens experienced by individuals is the monetary burden of affording the necessary health services to properly manage their illness.

This study attempts to reveal a difference between mental health symptom count for individuals who do and do not experience difficulty affording health care for their physical problems. The first hypothesis states that the indication of medical problems will be associated with greater mental health symptoms. The second hypothesis states that the relationship between medical concerns and mental health symptoms will be moderated by difficulty affording health services. Lastly, the third hypothesis states that the indication of unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and irregular exercise, will be associated with greater mental health symptoms. All data used in this study is archived data that was gathered by the Institute for Rural Health’s Mobile Health Units during free community health fairs from September 2012 to February 2014.

The first hypothesis was supported because the incidence rate of mental health symptom count was increased with the presence of some physical problems. These findings supported previous research that indicated that the presence of physical illness increases the chance of developing a mental illness. The study results revealed that the second hypothesis was not supported since difficulty affording health services did not have a significant effect on the relationship between indicated physical illnesses and mental health symptom count. Previous research reports that there is monetary burden for individuals who experience a physical or mental illness when accessing appropriate health services. This research aimed to explore if that burden would significantly affect the relationship of those illnesses. Lastly, the third hypothesis was supported because mental health symptom count incidence rate was found to increase for individuals partaking in negative health behaviors, such as smoking, and decrease for individuals partaking in positive health behaviors, such as exercising.


Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing | Psychology | Public Health and Community Nursing