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Neighborhood safety perception and depressive symptoms in China: a moderated mediation relationship.

PURPOSE: Despite rich data on neighborhood safety perception's role in shaping depressive symptoms, a comprehensive view of this dynamic interplay remains a frontier. This study seeks to unravel the intricate interplay of neighborhood safety perception and depressive symptoms, utilizing the lens of social safety theory.

METHODS: Employing the 2016 and 2020 waves of the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), this study utilized ordered logistic regression (ologit) for statistical analysis. The approach encompassed descriptive analysis of variables, Spearman's correlation analyses to explore associations between variables, and a moderated mediation analysis. Sensitivity analyses were also conducted to affirm the robustness of findings against model assumptions and data processing techniques.

RESULTS: The study uncovered a significant negative correlation between neighborhood safety perception and depressive symptoms (Direct effect =  - 0.338, Z =  - 2.564, p = 0.010). A key finding was the steeper slope of the relationship between neighborhood safety perception and neighborhood relation perception among individuals with a higher perception of neighborhood environment quality. As neighborhood environment quality perception increases, the strength of the mediated negative impact on depressive symptoms intensifies (- 0.102 >  - 0.132 >  - 0.162).

CONCLUSION: This study offers a comprehensive moderated mediation model that establishes a novel connection between neighborhood safety perception and depressive symptoms. It integrates the complexities of social safety theory and social information processes, revealing key strategies such as enhancing perceived neighborhood environment quality and neighborhood relationship quality.

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