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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

Rebeca Rios, Leona S Aiken, Alex J Zautra
Annals of Behavioral Medicine: a Publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012, 43 (1): 50-61
22037963

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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