Evaluating the effect of change in the built environment on mental health and subjective wellbeing: a natural experiment

Ram, B. et al. (2020) Evaluating the effect of change in the built environment on mental health and subjective wellbeing: a natural experiment. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 74(8), pp. 631-638. (doi: 10.1136/jech-2019-213591) (PMID:32332115) (PMCID:PMC7320742)

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Background: Neighbourhood characteristics may affect mental health and well-being, but longitudinal evidence is limited. We examined the effect of relocating to East Village (the former London 2012 Olympic Athletes’ Village), repurposed to encourage healthy active living, on mental health and well-being. Methods: 1278 adults seeking different housing tenures in East village were recruited and examined during 2013–2015. 877 (69%) were followed-up after 2 years; 50% had moved to East Village. Analysis examined change in objective measures of the built environment, neighbourhood perceptions (scored from low to high; quality −12 to 12, safety −10 to 10 units), self-reported mental health (depression and anxiety) and well-being (life satisfaction, life being worthwhile and happiness) among East Village participants compared with controls who did not move to East Village. Follow-up measures were regressed on baseline for each outcome with group status as a binary variable, adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, housing tenure and household clustering (random effect). Results: Participants who moved to East Village lived closer to their nearest park (528 m, 95% CI 482 to 575 m), in more walkable areas, and had better access to public transport, compared with controls. Living in East Village was associated with marked improvements in neighbourhood perceptions (quality 5.0, 95% CI 4.5 to 5.4 units; safety 3.4, 95% CI 2.9 to 3.9 units), but there was no overall effect on mental health and well-being outcomes. Conclusion: Despite large improvements in the built environment, there was no evidence that moving to East Village improved mental health and well-being. Changes in the built environment alone are insufficient to improve mental health and well-being.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ellaway, Dr Anne
Authors: Ram, B., Limb, E. S., Shankar, A., Nightingale, C. M., Rudnicka, A. R., Cummins, S., Clary, C., Lewis, D., Cooper, A. R., Page, A. S., Ellaway, A., Giles-Corti, B., Whincup, P. H., Cook, D. G., and Owen, C. G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):1470-2738
Published Online:24 April 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 74(8): 631-638
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727621SPHSU Core Renewal: Neighbourhoods and Communities Research ProgrammeAnne EllawayMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/10IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU10