Unconditional Cash Transfers and Association With Clinical Outcomes Among U.S. Veterans With Psychosis or Recent Homelessness

Jack Tsai, Amanda McCleery, Jonathan K. Wynn, Michael F. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Three rounds of stimulus checks were distributed to middle- and low-income U.S. adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. This 15-month longitudinal study examined rates of receipt of these stimulus checks, planned expenses, and associations with clinical outcomes among three veteran groups. METHODS: In total, 158 veterans, consisting of 59 with a psychotic disorder, 49 recently homeless veterans, and a comparison group of 50 veterans without a history of psychosis or homelessness, were assessed five times between May 2020 and July 2021. Bivariate analyses were used to compare receipt of stimulus checks and planned expenses among the groups, and multivariable analyses examined how receipt of checks was related to mental health and substance use over time. RESULTS: No group difference was found in receipt of stimulus checks, and 74%-84% of veterans reported receipt of more than one check. Most participants reported plans to use their stimulus checks to pay for bills, groceries, credit card debt, and rent or mortgage or to save the money. Over time, participants who received a greater number of stimulus checks reported significantly decreased symptoms of depression (B=-0.48) and anxiety (B=-0.84) and improved social functioning (B=0.24). For the recently homeless group, a greater number of stimulus checks received was associated with decreases in days of alcohol intoxication and drug use, but the reverse was found for the psychosis group. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple short-term unconditional government cash transfers may improve mental and social functioning among vulnerable populations during major crises, a finding that contributes to the research literature and has policy implications for pandemic and emergency preparedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1131
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Cost transfers
  • Homelessness
  • Psychosis
  • Stimulus checks
  • Veterans


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