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Our Neighborhood Social Health Data Depends on the Measurements Scientists Use?

Think of our neighborhoods. What we see around us? Houses, apartments, shopping malls, parks, community centers, and more.

 

The truth is that these structures affect our social and mental health. To measure these effects, scientists collect and measure resident data of a neighborhood using a standard radius measurement. The current measurement is 0.25 miles radius of a neighborhood condition. This means that health effects due to neighborhood conditions occur only in individuals that are just in that radius.

 

However, studies have found that this set radius measurement is not accurate for certain health data. In fact, there can be up to 4 times the radius (than the standard 0.25 mile) of health effects due to certain neighborhood conditions.

 

In a previous study, the following categories gave accurate results with the 0.25 mile radius :

  • Fear of neighborhood crime (ex. Is it safe to walk in daylight in your neighborhood?)

  • Satisfaction of neighborhood quality of life

  • Neighborhood social capital (ex. Degree to which your neighborhood residents could be trusted and how willing they are to help their neighbors)

  • MOST OF RESIDENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS WERE FINE USING 0.25 MILE RADIUS

These following categories did not give accurate results with the 0.25 mile radius :

  • Degree of social contact with neighbors

  • Perception of neighborhood social condition compared to the physical deterioration of these neighborhoods

  • WHEN COMMERCIAL STRUCTURES WERE INVOLVED, WE NEEDED A WIDER RADIUS TO GET ACCURATE DATA

 

Why do these categories paint accurate pictures of health data of residents?

  1. Greater trust between community members lead to lower rates of homicide, assault, robbery, and burglary

  2. Bad neighborhood conditions are linked with fear of safety and causing decreased mental health in residents

  3. Bad residence conditions and damages can lead to direct stress due to possible extreme temperatures, damaged appliances, inconveniences in living, and potential dangers to safety.

  4. Usually, neighborhoods with bad conditions may be economically depressed, causing additional stress towards residents

 

By using the standard 0.25 mile measurement, studies can unintentionally disregard parts of the population that may be affected by events occurring in neighborhoods. And by disregarding this unrepresented population, results from these studies can ultimately be inaccurate.

 

This should be taken into account for public policy-making and neighborhood reconstruction. The amount of positive impact beatification of a neighborhood can have is wide. Improvements in mental health can occur through this. We can also estimate the amount of mental health programs needed for certain neighborhoods depending on its infrastructure and qualities. We can improve qualities of life just by making our neighborhoods prettier. And its positive impacts will be greater than we previously calculated.

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