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The importance of social context: Neighborhood stressors, stress-buffering mechanisms, and alcohol, drug, and mental health disorders

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  • Stockdale, Susan E.
  • Wells, Kenneth B.
  • Tang, Lingqi
  • Belin, Thomas R.
  • Zhang, Lily
  • Sherbourne, Cathy D.

Abstract

This study examines the relationship among neighborhood stressors, stress-buffering mechanisms, and likelihood of alcohol, drug, and mental health (ADM) disorders in adults from 60 US communities (n=12,716). Research shows that larger support structures may interact with individual support factors to affect mental health, but few studies have explored buffering effects of these neighborhood characteristics. We test a conceptual model that explores effects of neighborhood stressors and stress-buffering mechanisms on ADM disorders. Using Health Care for Communities with census and other data, we found a lower likelihood of disorders in neighborhoods with a greater presence of stress-buffering mechanisms. Higher neighborhood average household occupancy and churches per capita were associated with a lower likelihood of disorders. Cross-level interactions revealed that violence-exposed individuals in high crime neighborhoods are vulnerable to depressive/anxiety disorders. Likewise, individuals with low social support in neighborhoods with high social isolation (i.e., low-average household occupancy) had a higher likelihood of disorders. If replicated by future studies using longitudinal data, our results have implications for policies and programs targeting neighborhoods to reduce ADM disorders.

Suggested Citation

  • Stockdale, Susan E. & Wells, Kenneth B. & Tang, Lingqi & Belin, Thomas R. & Zhang, Lily & Sherbourne, Cathy D., 2007. "The importance of social context: Neighborhood stressors, stress-buffering mechanisms, and alcohol, drug, and mental health disorders," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(9), pages 1867-1881, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:65:y:2007:i:9:p:1867-1881
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Arcaya, Mariana C. & Tucker-Seeley, Reginald D. & Kim, Rockli & Schnake-Mahl, Alina & So, Marvin & Subramanian, S.V., 2016. "Research on neighborhood effects on health in the United States: A systematic review of study characteristics," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 16-29.
    2. Butcher, Fredrick & Galanek, Joseph D. & Kretschmar, Jeff M. & Flannery, Daniel J., 2015. "The impact of neighborhood disorganization on neighborhood exposure to violence, trauma symptoms, and social relationships among at-risk youth," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 300-306.
    3. Jean Caron, 2012. "Predictors of Quality of Life in Economically Disadvantaged Populations in Montreal," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 411-427, July.
    4. Masayoshi Oka, 2015. "Measuring a neighborhood affluence-deprivation continuum in urban settings: Descriptive findings from four US cities," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(54), pages 1469-1486, June.
    5. Maselko, Joanna & Hughes, Cayce & Cheney, Rose, 2011. "Religious social capital: Its measurement and utility in the study of the social determinants of health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(5), pages 759-767, September.
    6. Chang, Jamie Suki, 2017. "Health in the Tenderloin: A resident-guided study of substance use, treatment, and housing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 166-174.

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