Neighbourhood cohesion and mental wellbeing among older adults: A mixed methods approach
HALCyon Study Team
Social Science and Medicine
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open Access funded by Economic and Social Research Council. Under a Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
here is now a body of evidence that demonstrates strong links between neighbourhood characteristics and mental health and wellbeing. There is an increasing interest in how this relationship varies for individuals of different ages. Understanding the link between neighbourhood and wellbeing for older adults is of particular significance, given the changing age structure of the population and the desire among policy makers and practitioners to promote healthy and active ageing. This paper provides further evidence on the nature and strength of the link between individual perceptions of neighbourhood belonging and mental wellbeing among those over age fifty using both qualitative and quantitative data from three British cohort studies. Between 2008 and 2011 quantitative data were collected from 10,312 cohort members, and 230 of them took part in qualitative biographical interviews. Quantitative analysis confirms that there is a moderate association between neighbourhood cohesion and wellbeing measured at the individual level in each of the three cohorts. This association persists after controlling for a range of covariates including personality. The association between neighbourhood cohesion and wellbeing is stronger for individuals in the older two cohorts than in the younger cohort. Using qualitative biographical interviews with 116 men and 114 women we illustrate how individuals talk about their sense of neighbourhood belonging. The importance of social participation as a mechanism for promoting neighbourhood belonging, and the use of age and life stage as characteristics to describe and define neighbours, is clear. In addition, the qualitative interviews point to the difficulties of using a short battery of questions to capture the varied and multi-dimensional nature of neighbourhood relations.
This project is part of a collaborative research programme entitled ‘Healthy Ageing across the Life Course’ (HALCyon). This programme is funded under the New Dynamics of Ageing initiative (http://newdynamics.group.shef.ac.uk/), RES-353-25-0001.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 107, pp. 44 - 51