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Neighborhood Contexts and the Mediating Role of Neighborhood Social Cohesion on Health and Psychological Distress Among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Residents

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Annals of Behavioral Medicine

Abstract

Background

Neighborhood social cohesion (NSC) may contribute to understanding how neighborhood contexts influence the physical and mental health of residents.

Purpose

We examined the relation of NSC to self-rated mental and physical health and evaluated the mediating role of NSC on relations between neighborhood socioeconomic status, ethnic composition, and health.

Methods

A sample of 3,098 Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents within 597 census tracts in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona rated their health, psychological distress, and their perceptions of NSC. Census tract estimates provided neighborhood contextual measures.

Results

Neighborhood social cohesion was significantly related to better physical and mental health. Both individually rated NSC and neighborhood-level NSC mediated relations between neighborhood contexts and health outcomes. Substantive findings were consistent across Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents.

Conclusions

The findings have implications for improving ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in physical and mental health through attention to social cohesion among neighborhood residents.

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Notes

  1. Similar to national census data on racial categories endorsed by Hispanics [34], the majority of Hispanics did not endorse a racial category provided; 57% of Hispanics selected “other race” (N = 164), “don’t know” (N = 60), or refused to respond (N = 7). Thirty-seven percent identified themselves as White, 4% selected Native American, 1% selected Asian, 0.5% selected African-American, and 0.5% selected Pacific Islander categories.

  2. For the 93 (15.6%) neighborhood tracts for which there was one AHS respondent, neighborhood mean NSC was represented by the individual’s score.

  3. Mediation models were re-estimated excluding the 93 tracts containing only one respondent per neighborhood, and all results were replicated. This subsample consisted of 503 neighborhood tracts and 2,878 residents.

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Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge St. Luke’s Health Initiatives for providing access to the 2008 Arizona Health Survey data. We also thank Manuel Barrera, Jr., Mary C. Davis, and John Hall for their valuable comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

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Correspondence to Rebeca Rios Ph.D..

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This research was based on the doctoral dissertation of the first author.

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Rios, R., Aiken, L.S. & Zautra, A.J. Neighborhood Contexts and the Mediating Role of Neighborhood Social Cohesion on Health and Psychological Distress Among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Residents. ann. behav. med. 43, 50–61 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-011-9306-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-011-9306-9

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