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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Two Drexel Studies Uncover Neighborhood Factors Impacting Depression and Hypertension

Community Safety and Social Bond Protect Against and Decreases Symptoms of Depression

Improving safety and social bonds within a community can decrease depressive symptoms and protect against depression, according to the first Drexel study. Researchers recommend that the social environments of neighborhoods be considered by community planners and public health practitioners to achieve optimal mental health.

Researchers investigated whether social resources, including safety, social cohesion, and destinations promoting social engagement in neighborhoods are associated with depressive symptoms.

Better safety and social cohesion and greater density of social engagement destinations were associated with lower depressive symptoms at baseline. However, greater long-term exposure to these features was not associated with progression of depressive symptoms.

The study was published in April’s Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. The research was led by Drexel University’s Kari Moore, statistician in the Urban Health Collaborative, and co-authored by Dornsife School of Public Health Dean Ana Diez Roux along with colleagues from the University of North Carolina, University of Michigan, and University of Pittsburgh. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Access to Healthy Food Only Neighborhood Factor to Reduce Incidence of Hypertension

A second recent report co-authored by Dornsife School of Public Health Dean Ana Diez Roux concluded that availability of healthy food was associated with lower incidence of depression in middle-aged to older adults. Researchers measured other neighborhood factors – including walking environment, access to recreational resources, safety and social cohesion – and found no link to the incidence of hypertension.

This study was published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology in May and was lead by Paulina Kaiser, at Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Drexel Dean Ana Diez Roux co-authored the paper along with colleagues from the University of Michigan, University of California-Berkeley, Northwestern University, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Columbia University, and University of Washington. Funding for this research was provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.