Financial strain moderates genetic influences on self-rated health: support for diathesis–stress model of gene–environment interplay

Deborah Finkel, Catalina Zavala, Carol E. Franz, Shandell Pahlen, Margaret Gatz, Nancy L. Pedersen, Brian K. Finch, Anna Dahl Aslan, Vibeke S. Catts, Malin Ericsson, Robert F. Krueger, Nicholas G. Martin, Adith Mohan, Miriam A. Mosing, Carol A. Prescott, Keith E. Whitfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data from the Interplay of Genes and Environment across Multiple Studies (IGEMS) consortium were used to examine predictions of different models of gene-by-environment interaction to understand how genetic variance in self-rated health (SRH) varies at different levels of financial strain. A total of 11,359 individuals from 10 twin studies in Australia, Sweden, and the United States contributed relevant data, including 2,074 monozygotic and 2,623 dizygotic twin pairs. Age ranged from 22 to 98 years, with a mean age of 61.05 (SD = 13.24). A factor model was used to create a harmonized measure of financial strain across studies and items. Twin analyses of genetic and environmental variance for SRH incorporating age, age2, sex, and financial strain moderators indicated significant financial strain moderation of genetic influences on self-rated health. Moderation results did not differ across sex or country. Genetic variance for SRH increased as financial strain increased, matching the predictions of the diathesis–stress and social comparison models for components of variance. Under these models, environmental improvements would be expected to reduce genetically based health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-70
Number of pages13
JournalBiodemography and Social Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
IGEMS is supported by the National Institutes of Health Grants No. R01 AG059329, R01 AG060470, RF1 AG058068, and previously by R01 AG037985 and R56 AG037985. SATSA was supported by grants R01 AG04563, R01 AG10175, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Aging, the Swedish Council For Working Life and Social Research (FAS) (97:0147:1B, 2009-0795) and Swedish Research Council (825-2007-7460, 825-2009-6141). OCTO-Twin was supported by grant R01 AG08861. Gender was supported by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Aging, The Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson?s Foundation, The Swedish Council for Social Research, and the Swedish Foundation for Health Care Sciences and Allergy Research. TOSS was supported by grant R01 MH54610 from the National Institutes of Health. VETSA was supported by National Institute of Health grants NIA R01 AG018384, R01 AG018386, R01 AG022381, and R01 AG022982, and, in part, with resources of the VA San Diego Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health. The Cooperative Studies Program of the Office of Research & Development of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has provided financial support for the development and maintenance of the Vietnam Era Twin (VET) Registry. This MIDUS study was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development and by National Institute on Aging Grant AG20166. Funding for the Australian Over-50?s twin study was supported by Mr. George Landers of Chania, Crete. We acknowledge the contribution of the OATS research team ( to this study. The OATS study has been funded by a National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Research Council (ARC) Strategic Award Grant of the Ageing Well, Ageing Productively Program (ID No. 401162) and NHMRC Project Grants (ID 1045325 and 1085606). OATS participant recruitment was facilitated through Twins Research Australia, a national resource in part supported by a Centre for Research Excellence Grant (ID: 1079102), from the National Health and Medical Research Council. We thank the participants for their time and generosity in contributing to this research. The Carolina African American Twin Study of Aging (CAATSA) was funded by NIA grant R01 AG13662. The Project Talent Twin Study has been supported by National Institute of Health grants R01 AG043656 and R01 AG056163, and development funds from American Institutes of Research. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIA/NIH, or the VA.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Society for Biodemography and Social Biology.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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