Mental health, deprivation, and the neighbourhood social environment: a network analysis

McElroy, Eoin, McIntyre, Jason C., Bentall, Richard P., Wilson, Tim, Holt, Keith, Kullu, Cecil, Rajan, Nathan, Kerr, Andrew, Panagaki, Katerina et al (2019) Mental health, deprivation, and the neighbourhood social environment: a network analysis. Clinical Psychological Science, 7 (4). pp. 719-734. ISSN 2167-7026

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Different aspects of the neighbourhood social environment have been linked with mental ill-health, however the mechanisms underlying these associations remain poorly understood because of the number and complexity of the components involved. We used a novel statistical approach, network analysis, to explore the complex associations between neighbourhood social cohesion, social disorder and mental health symptoms in a sample of 3,670 adults from an economically deprived region of the UK (mean age [SD] = 49.34 years [18.87]; 57% female). Elasso regularised networks were estimated, and network comparisons were conducted by level of deprivation. Mental health symptoms and neighbourhood components formed relatively distinct clusters of items. These domains were linked primarily by paranoia, although only in the most deprived group. Drunken/rowdy behaviour was particularly influential within the neighbourhood cluster, therefore policies aimed at reducing such disruptive behaviour could have positive knock-on effects for social cohesion and mental health.

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