Influence of perceived and actual neighbourhood disorder on common mental illness

C Polling, M Khondoker, S L Hatch, M Hotopf
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2014, 49 (6): 889-901

PURPOSE: Fear of crime and perceived neighbourhood disorder have been linked to common mental illness (CMI). However, few UK studies have also considered the experience of crime at the individual and neighbourhood level. This study aims to identify individual and local area factors associated with increased perceived neighbourhood disorder and test associations between CMI and individuals' perceptions of disorder in their neighbourhoods, personal experiences of crime and neighbourhood crime rates.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted of 1,698 adults living in 1,075 households in Lambeth and Southwark, London. CMI was assessed using the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule. Data were analysed using multilevel logistic regression with neighbourhood defined as lower super output area.

RESULTS: Individuals who reported neighbourhood disorder were more likely to suffer CMI (OR 2.12) as were those with individual experience of crime. These effects remained significant when individual characteristics were controlled for. While 14 % of the variance in perceived neighbourhood disorder occurred at the neighbourhood level, there was no significant variance at this level for CMI.

CONCLUSIONS: Perceived neighbourhood disorder is more common in income-deprived areas and individuals who are unemployed. Worry about one's local area and individual experience of crime are strongly and independently associated with CMI, but neighbourhood crime rates do not appear to impact on mental health.

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