November 3, 2020
While the association between neighbourhood cohesion and mental health has been widely studied in the general population, the effects of neighbourhood cohesion across ethnic groups is not well understood. Ethnicity is often left out of study design, many studies do not consider effect modification by ethnicity, or they rely on overly simplistic ethnic categories.
Data from the UK household longitudinal study was used to investigate whether changes in neighbourhood cohesion is independently associated with changes in mental health (measured using the GHQ) over 9 years (2009 to 2018), and whether the association differed across 17 ethnic groups. The study used a fixed-effect modelling approach that includes within-person estimators that allows each participant to act as their own control.
Compared to British white, the following ethnic groups all saw a similar improvement in GHQ (-0.76, 95% CI -0.83 to -0.70) for each point increase in neighbourhood cohesion: Irish, any other White, White and Asian mixed, Chinese, Caribbean, African, any other Black, Arab, and others. Some ethnic groups saw stronger improvements in mental for each point increase in neighbourhood cohesion, including White and Black Caribbean mixed, any other mixed, Indian, Pakistani, any other Asian, with the strongest effect seen in Bangladeshi participants (-2.52. 95% CI -3.48 to -1.56).
Our study highlights the importance of ethnocultural data in research examining neighbourhood effects on mental health. Future research should evaluate policies to improve neighbourhood cohesion for ethnic minorities to address ethnic mental health disparities.
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