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Studies on neighbourhood characteristics and depression show equivocal results.
This large-scale pooled analysis examines whether urbanisation, socioeconomic, physical and social neighbourhood characteristics are associated with the prevalence and severity of depression.
Cross-sectional design including data are from eight Dutch cohort studies (n= 32 487). Prevalence of depression, either DSM-IV diagnosis of depressive disorder or scoring for moderately severe depression on symptom scales, and continuous depression severity scores were analysed. Neighbourhood characteristics were linked using postal codes and included (a) urbanisation grade, (b) socioeconomic characteristics: socioeconomic status, home value, social security beneficiaries and non-Dutch ancestry, (c) physical characteristics: air pollution, traffic noise and availability of green space and water, and (d) social characteristics: social cohesion and safety. Multilevel regression analyses were adjusted for the individual's age, gender, educational level and income. Cohort-specific estimates were pooled using random-effects analysis.
The pooled analysis showed that higher urbanisation grade (odds ratio (OR) = 1.05, 95% CI 1.01–1.10), lower socioeconomic status (OR = 0.90, 95% CI 0.87–0.95), higher number of social security beneficiaries (OR = 1.12, 95% CI 1.06–1.19), higher percentage of non-Dutch residents (OR = 1.08, 95% CI 1.02–1.14), higher levels of air pollution (OR = 1.07, 95% CI 1.01–1.12), less green space (OR = 0.94, 95% CI 0.88–0.99) and less social safety (OR = 0.92, 95% CI 0.88–0.97) were associated with higher prevalence of depression. All four socioeconomic neighbourhood characteristics and social safety were also consistently associated with continuous depression severity scores.
This large-scale pooled analysis across eight Dutch cohort studies shows that urbanisation and various socioeconomic, physical and social neighbourhood characteristics are associated with depression, indicating that a wide range of environmental aspects may relate to poor mental health.
Which neighbourhood factors most consistently impact on depression and anxiety remains unclear. This study examines whether objectively obtained socioeconomic, physical and social aspects of the neighbourhood in which persons live are associated with the presence and severity of depressive and anxiety disorders.
Cross-sectional data are from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety including participants (n = 2980) with and without depressive and anxiety disorders in the past year (based on DSM-based psychiatric interviews). We also determined symptom severity of depression (Inventory of Depression Symptomatology), anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory) and fear (Fear Questionnaire). Neighbourhood characteristics comprised socioeconomic factors (socioeconomic status, home value, number of social security beneficiaries and percentage of immigrants), physical factors (air pollution, traffic noise and availability of green space and water) and social factors (social cohesion and safety). Multilevel regression analyses were performed with the municipality as the second level while adjusting for individual sociodemographic variables and household income.
Not urbanization grade, but rather neighbourhood socioecononomic factors (low socioeconomic status, more social security beneficiaries and more immigrants), physical factors (high levels of traffic noise) and social factors (lower social cohesion and less safety) were associated with the presence of depressive and anxiety disorders. Most of these neighbourhood characteristics were also associated with increased depressive and anxiety symptoms severity.
These findings suggest that it is not population density in the neighbourhood, but rather the quality of socioeconomic, physical and social neighbourhood characteristics that is associated with the presence and severity of affective disorders.
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