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Neighborhood characteristics and mental health: the relevance for mothers of infants in deprived English neighborhoods

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  • Psychology
  • Economics
  • Psychology


Purpose Neighborhood features have been linked with adult mental-health problems, particularly depression. A recent comprehensive review indicated structural neighborhood features derived from data sources such as the census may be less important predictors of mental health problems than social processes but that most studies lack multiple neighborhood measures. The aim of the study is to investigate relations between multiple neighborhood factors (observations, interviewer ratings, UK Census data) and maternal mental-health problems. Methods 14,700 mothers with 9-month-old infants living in 195 deprived neighborhoods in England were interviewed, neighborhoods were observed and census data on employment, ethnic background and housing tenancy utilized. Results Lower (interviewer-rated) neighborhood quality and lower neighborhood prosperity predicted more mother-reported mental-health problems net of family-level predictors. Contrary to expectations detailed observations did not contribute additionally. Conclusions Neighborhood conditions, though not as important as family factors and maternal characteristics, are sufficiently important to consider when planning mental health services; they can be assessed at relatively low cost by census data or professionals’ ratings.

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