IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Perceptions of social capital and the built environment and mental health

Listed author(s):
  • Araya, Ricardo
  • Dunstan, Frank
  • Playle, Rebecca
  • Thomas, Hollie
  • Palmer, Stephen
  • Lewis, Glyn
Registered author(s):

    There has been much speculation about a possible association between the social and built environment and health, but the empirical evidence is still elusive. The social and built environments are best seen as contextual concepts but they are usually estimated as an aggregation of individual compositional measures, such as perceptions on trust or the desirability to live in an area. If these aggregated compositional measures were valid measures, one would expect that they would evince correlations at higher levels of data collection (e.g., neighbourhood). The aims of this paper are: (1) to investigate the factor structure of a self-administered questionnaire measuring individual perceptions of trust, social participation, social cohesion, social control, and the built environment; (2) to investigate variation in these factors at higher than the individual level (households and postcodes) in order to assess if these constructs reflect some contextual effect; and (3) to study the association between mental health, as measured by the General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12), and these derived factors. A cross-sectional household survey was undertaken during May-August 2001 in a district of South Wales with a population of 140,000. We found that factor analysis grouped our questions in factors similar to the theoretical ones we had previously envisaged. We also found that approximately one-third of the variance for neighbourhood quality and 10% for social control was explained at postcode (neighbourhood) level after adjusting for individual variables, thus suggesting that some of our compositional measures capture contextual characteristics of the built and social environment. After adjusting for individual variables, trust and social cohesion, two key social capital components were the only factors to show statistically significant associations with GHQ-12 scores. However, these factors also showed little variation at postcode levels, suggesting a stronger individual determination. We conclude that our results provide some evidence in support of an association between mental health (GHQ-12 scores) and perceptions of social capital, but less support for the contextual nature of social capital.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277-9536(05)00642-8
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 62 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 12 (June)
    Pages: 3072-3083

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:12:p:3072-3083
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description

    Order Information: Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional
    Web: http://www.elsevier.com/orderme/journalorderform.cws_home/315/journalorderform1/orderooc/id=654&ref=654_01_ooc_1&version=01

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as
    in new window


    1. Silver, Eric & Mulvey, Edward P. & Swanson, Jeffrey W., 2002. "Neighborhood structural characteristics and mental disorder: Faris and Dunham revisited," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1457-1470, October.
    2. Lochner, Kimberly A. & Kawachi, Ichiro & Brennan, Robert T. & Buka, Stephen L., 2003. "Social capital and neighborhood mortality rates in Chicago," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1797-1805, April.
    3. Harpham, Trudy & Grant, Emma & Rodriguez, Carlos, 2004. "Mental health and social capital in Cali, Colombia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(11), pages 2267-2277, June.
    4. Caughy, Margaret O'Brien & O'Campo, Patricia J. & Muntaner, Carles, 2003. "When being alone might be better: neighborhood poverty, social capital, and child mental health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 227-237, July.
    5. McCulloch, Andrew, 2003. "An examination of social capital and social disorganisation in neighbourhoods in the British household panel study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1425-1438, April.
    6. Lindström, Martin & Merlo, Juan & Östergren, Per-Olof, 2002. "Individual and neighbourhood determinants of social participation and social capital: a multilevel analysis of the city of Malmö, Sweden," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(12), pages 1779-1791, June.
    7. Anne Ellaway & Sally Macintyre & Ade Kearns, 2001. "Perceptions of Place and Health in Socially Contrasting Neighbourhoods," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 38(12), pages 2299-2316, November.
    8. Macintyre, Sally & Ellaway, Anne & Cummins, Steven, 2002. "Place effects on health: how can we conceptualise, operationalise and measure them?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 125-139, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:12:p:3072-3083. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.