The EARN-Health Trial: Intervening on economic determinants of health

The research team is evaluating an EARN intervention that encourages financial saving among low-income US adults to see if improved financial security impacts mental health and health behaviors. Measured outcomes include self-reported overall health, health-related quality of life, alcohol and tobacco use, depression symptoms, financial stress, optimism and locus of control, and spending and savings behaviors. Evidence generated during this project will be used to develop new insights into how intervening on inadequate financial savings can influence population health and health equity and address a critical upstream economic determinant of health.


No significant, long-term effects were found. Individuals in the IDA program did not experience a significant improvement in their mental or physical health, as compared to controls, potentially because the matching amount was relatively small. Further evaluation is needed. Incentives of varying amounts should be tested to determine whether larger matches might yield better outcomes.


Health: Self-reported health-related quality of life, physical and mental health, tobacco and alcohol use, depression symptoms

Other: Self-reported financial stress, locus of control, optimism, improvements in long-term financial outlooks


Mixed-methods, waitlist-controlled trial

Quantitative: Intent-to-treat analysis using mixed models to compare survey responses between the intervention and wait list control groups.

Qualitative: Analysis of semi-structured qualitative telephone interviews to further understand the linkages between the intervention and self-reported health outcomes.

Doctor holding a piggy bank
Grantee and Partner organizations
Grant status
Principal investigators
Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD
Start date
Award amount
24 months

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