Chapter 8. Neighborhood quality and positive health indicators among urban adolescents


Han N Oo1, Miranda Spratlen1, MHS, PhD, Courtney K Blackwell2, PhD, Teresa Durham1, Jia Guo3, MS, PhD, Lori Hoepner1, MPH, DrPh, Diurka Diaz1, MA, Gladys Badia1, MA, Shuang Wang4, PhD and Julie B Herbstman1, MSc, PhD
1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia University Mailman
School of Public Health, New York, United States of America
2Department of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University,
Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
3Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, United States of America
4Department of Biostatistics, Columbia University, New York, United States of America

Part of the book: Environmental Health: Poverty, Race and Child Health in the Time of COVID-19


There is a growing epidemiologic interest to expand the scope of health research beyond disease and risk factors to a more comprehensive evaluation of all health states, including those on the positive end of the spectrum (“positive health”). Neighborhood quality (NQ) is a potentially modifiable factor that may influence positive health. We evaluated the association between perception of NQ in childhood and indicators of positive health among adolescents who live in low-income, urban neighborhoods of New York City. Mothers assessed NQ prospectively via questionnaire at child ages 5, 7, 9, and 11 years. Indicators of positive health domains including general health, physical health, and mental health were assessed and reported by mothers when their children were between the ages of 10-20 years and self-reported among a subset of children at 16-20 years. Children were grouped into “stressed” and “non[1]stressed” NQ groups based on the repeated prospective maternal report evaluating various aspects of their neighborhood. Overall, we found a general trend that those in the perceived “non-stressed” NQ groups had better Global Health compared to those in the “stressed” NQ group. In the subset of children who provided self-report, we observed significant associations between better overall NQ and NQ safety and better Global Health. We also observed a significant relationship between greater perceived neighborhood social cohesion and lower psychological stress. Our findings identify an important modifiable environmental factor in child and adolescent health that could serve as a focus for interventions to help break the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities.


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