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Objectively measured residential environment and self-reported health: A multilevel analysis of UK census data

Dunstan, Frank David John, Fone, David Lawrence, Glickman, Myer and Palmer, Stephen Royston 2013. Objectively measured residential environment and self-reported health: A multilevel analysis of UK census data. PLoS ONE 8 (7) , e69045. 10.1371/journal.pone.0069045

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Little is known about the association between health and the quality of the residential environment. What is known is often based on subjective assessments of the environment rather than on measurements by independent observers. The aim of this study, therefore, was to determine the association between self-reported general health and an objectively assessed measure of the residential environment. We studied over 30,000 residents aged 18 or over living in 777 neighbourhoods in south Wales. Built environment quality was measured by independent observers using a validated tool, the Residential Environment Assessment Tool (REAT), at unit postcode level. UK Census data on each resident, which included responses to a question which assessed self-reported general health, was linked to the REAT score. The Census data also contained detailed information on socio-economic and demographic characteristics of all respondents and was also linked to the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation. After adjusting for both the individual characteristics and area deprivation, respondents in the areas of poorest neighbourhood quality were more likely to report poor health compared to those living in areas of highest quality (OR 1.36, 95% confidence interval 1.22–1.49). The particular neighbourhood characteristics associated with poor health were physical incivilities and measures of how well the residents maintained their properties. Measures of green space were not associated with self-reported health. This is the first full population study to examine such associations and the results demonstrate the importance for health of the quality of the neighbourhood area in which people live and particularly the way in which residents behave towards their own and their neighbours’ property. A better understanding of causal pathways that allows the development of interventions to improve neighbourhood quality would offer significant potential health gains.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Publisher: PLoS
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2020 01:47

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