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Sense of Place and Health in Hamilton, Ontario: A Case Study


  • Allison Williams


  • Peter Kitchen


The concept of sense of place has received considerable attention by social scientists in recent years. Research has indicated that a person’s sense of place is influenced by a number of factors including the built environment, socio-economic status (SES), well-being and health. Relatively few studies have examined sense of place at the neighbourhood level, particularly among communities exhibiting different levels of SES. This article investigates sense of place among three neighbourhood groups in Hamilton, Ontario representing areas of low, mixed and high SES. It analyses data from a 16-point sense of place scale derived from the Hamilton Household Quality of Life Survey carried out in 2010–2011 among 1,002 respondents. The paper found that sense of place was highest among residents of the high SES neighbourhood group as well as among home owners, people residing in single-detached homes, retired residents and those living in their neighbourhood for more than 10 years. From a health perspective, the paper found that a strong association existed between sense of place and self-perceived mental health across the three neighbourhood groups. Furthermore, by way of regression modeling, the paper examined the factors influencing health-related sense of place. Among the sample of respondents, a strong connection was found between housing, particularly home ownership, and high levels of health-related sense of place. Copyright The Author(s) 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Allison Williams & Peter Kitchen, 2012. "Sense of Place and Health in Hamilton, Ontario: A Case Study," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 108(2), pages 257-276, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:108:y:2012:i:2:p:257-276
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-012-0065-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heisz, Andrew & McLeod, Logan, 2004. "Low-income in Census Metropolitan Areas, 1980-2000," Trends and Conditions in Census Metropolitan Areas 2004001e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    2. Kearns, Robin A., 1991. "The place of health in the health of place: The case of the Hokianga special medical area," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 519-530, January.
    3. Nazeem Muhajarine & Ronald Labonte & Allison Williams & James Randall, 2008. "Person, Perception, and Place: What Matters to Health and Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 85(1), pages 53-80, January.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:9:1451-1456_5 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Luginaah, Isaac N. & Martin Taylor, S. & Elliott, Susan J. & Eyles, John D., 2002. "Community reappraisal of the perceived health effects of a petroleum refinery," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 47-61, July.
    6. Warin, Megan & Baum, Frances & Kalucy, Elizabeth & Murray, Charlie & Veale, Bronwyn, 2000. "The power of place: space and time in women's and community health centres in South Australia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(12), pages 1863-1875, June.
    7. Fuller, Theodore D. & Edwards, John N. & Sermsri, Santhat & Vorakitphokatorn, Sairudee, 1993. "Housing, stress, and physical well-being: Evidence from Thailand," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 1417-1428, June.
    8. Williams, Allison, 1998. "Therapeutic landscapes in holistic medicine," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 46(9), pages 1193-1203, May.
    9. 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.
    10. Gesler, Wilbert M., 1992. "Therapeutic landscapes: Medical issues in light of the new cultural geography," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 735-746, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Skinner, Emily & Masuda, Jeffrey R., 2013. "Right to a healthy city? Examining the relationship between urban space and health inequity by Aboriginal youth artist-activists in Winnipeg," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 210-218.


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