Socioeconomic Mobility and Psychological and Cognitive Functioning in a Diverse Sample of Adults With and Without HIV

Gali H. Weissberger, Rodolfo A. Núñez, Kayla Tureson, Alaina Gold, April D. Thames

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective This cross-sectional study examined the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) mobility from childhood to adulthood on psychological and cognitive well-being in African American and non-Hispanic White HIV-positive (HIV+) and HIV-seronegative (HIV-) adults who are part of an ongoing study investigating psychosocial and neurobehavioral effects of HIV. Methods Participants (N = 174, 24.1% female, 59.2% African American, 67.8% HIV+) were categorized into four groups (upward mobility, downward mobility, stable-not-poor, chronic-poverty) based on self-reported childhood and current community SES (which were correlated with objective measures of SES and proxies of childhood SES). SES groups were compared on self-report measures of psychological well-being, subjective executive functioning ratings, and performance across six cognitive domains. Primary analyses were stratified by HIV status. Results For the HIV+ group, SES mobility was associated with psychological well-being (chronic burden of stress: F(7,101) = 3.17, mean squared error [MSE] = 49.42, p =.030, η2 = 0.14; depressive symptoms: F(7,101) = 4.46, MSE = 70.49, p =.006,η2 = 0.14), subjective ratings of executive dysfunction (F(7,101) = 6.11, MSE = 114.29, p =.001,η2 = 0.18), and objective performance in executive functioning (F(9,99) = 3.22, MSE = 249.52, p =.030, η2 = 0.15) and learning (F(9,99) = 3.01, MSE = 220.52, p =.034, η2 = 0.13). In the control group, SES mobility was associated with chronic stress burden (F(5,49) = 4.677, p =.025, η2 = 0.15); however, no other relationships between SES mobility and outcomes of interest were observed (all p values >.20). In general, downward mobility and chronic poverty were associated with worse ratings across psychological well-being measures and cognitive performance. Conclusions Findings within the HIV+ group are consistent with previous studies that report downward mobility to be associated with poor psychological outcomes. People living with HIV may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of socioeconomic instability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-227
Number of pages10
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • African American
  • HIV
  • cognition, psychological well-being
  • socioeconomic mobility
  • socioeconomic status

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology


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