Journal of Community Health

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 47–56 | Cite as

Living Environment Matters: Relationships Between Neighborhood Characteristics and Health of the Residents in a Dutch Municipality

  • Polina PutrikEmail author
  • Nanne K. de Vries
  • Suhreta Mujakovic
  • Ludovic van Amelsvoort
  • IJmert Kant
  • Anton E. Kunst
  • Hans van Oers
  • Maria Jansen
Original Paper


Characteristics of an individual alone cannot exhaustively explain all the causes of poor health, and neighborhood of residence have been suggested to be one of the factors that contribute to health. However, knowledge about aspects of the neighborhood that are most important to health is limited. The main objective of this study was to explore associations between certain features of neighborhood environment and self-rated health and depressive symptoms in Maastricht (The Netherlands). A large amount of routinely collected neighborhood data were aggregated by means of factor analysis to 18 characteristics of neighborhood social and physical environment. Associations between these characteristics and self-rated health and presence of depressive symptoms were further explored in multilevel logistic regression models adjusted for individual demographic and socio-economic factors. The study sample consisted of 9,879 residents (mean age 55 years, 48 % male). Residents of unsafe communities were less likely to report good health (OR 0.88 95 % CI 0.80–0.97) and depressive symptoms (OR 0.81 95 % CI 0.69–0.97), and less cohesive environment was related to worse self-rated health (OR 0.81 95 % CI 0.72–0.92). Residents of neighborhoods with more car traffic nuisance and more disturbance from railway noise reported worse mental health (OR 0.79 95 % CI 0.68–0.92 and 0.85 95 % CI 0.73–0.99, respectively). We did not observe any association between health and quality of parking and shopping facilities, facilities for public or private transport, neighborhood aesthetics, green space, industrial nuisance, sewerage, neighbor nuisance or satisfaction with police performance. Our findings can be used to support development of integrated health policies targeting broader determinants of health. Improving safety, social cohesion and decreasing traffic nuisance in disadvantaged neighborhoods might be a promising way to improve the health of residents and reduce health inequalities.


Neighborhood Social and physical environment Self-rated health Depressive symptoms Socio-economic inequalities 

Supplementary material

10900_2014_9894_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Polina Putrik
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nanne K. de Vries
    • 1
  • Suhreta Mujakovic
    • 2
  • Ludovic van Amelsvoort
    • 3
  • IJmert Kant
    • 3
  • Anton E. Kunst
    • 4
  • Hans van Oers
    • 5
    • 6
  • Maria Jansen
    • 2
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Health Promotion, School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI)Maastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Academic Collaborative Centre for Public Health LimburgPublic Health Service Southern Limburg GGD Zuid LimburgGeleenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology, School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI)Maastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Centre (AMC)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)BilthovenThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Tranzo Scientific Centre for Care and WelfareTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Department of Health Services Research, School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI)Maastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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