Poverty presents many risks to an individual’s health and overall well-being. Unstable and poor living conditions, diet, mental health, and relationships, as often experienced by individuals in poverty, can have negative impacts on one’s overall health. A study by the World Bank interviewed low income individuals in over 60 Countries and found that individuals in poverty were aware of the link between their health and their living conditions but felt that they had little control over their situation (Narayan, World Bank, Voices of the Poor, 2000).
According to the study, participants most frequently mentioned access to food as a significant impact to health and preventing illness. Poor living conditions can also affect health due to poor insulation, exposure to the elements, and overcrowding. Individuals in poverty may also have difficulty accessing medical services, leading to aggravated medical issues. While physical health is a key factor in overall health, the poor are also significantly affected by poor mental health, isolation, addictions, and lack of emotional and physical safety.
Studies have found a link between spirituality and health, examining how elements of spirituality such as support structures, views on suffering, and a source of motivation can have a positive impact on ones health (Hill & Pargament, 2008).
Studies have also found a correlation between social isolation and poor health, especially for older individuals (Cornwell & Waite, 2009). The relational and spiritual dimensions are therefore integral to understanding holistic health concerns of individuals in poverty.