Neighborhood violent crime and unemployment increase the risk of coronary heart disease: a multilevel study in an urban setting

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Apr;62(8):2061-71. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.08.051. Epub 2005 Oct 3.


Little is known about the association between neighborhood social disorganization and coronary heart disease (CHD). This study used the theoretical frameworks of the Chicago school and the Stirling County group in order to analyze the impact of neighborhood violent crime and neighborhood unemployment on CHD in an urban setting, the capital of Sweden. The entire population of Stockholm County aged 35-64 years on January 1, 1998 was included in the study. All individuals were followed for CHD until December 31, 1998. Small area neighborhood units were used to define neighborhoods. The neighborhood-level variables were calculated as rates of violent crime or unemployment in the small area neighborhood units, categorized in quintiles. Multilevel logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios and neighborhood-level variance in three different models. When rates of neighborhood violent crime or neighborhood unemployment increased, the risk of CHD increased among both women and men. In neighborhoods with the highest rates of violent crime (quintile 5), the odds ratios were 1.75 (CI=1.37-2.22) and 1.39 (CI=1.19-1.63) for women and men, respectively. In neighborhoods with the highest unemployment rates, the corresponding odds ratios were 2.05 (CI=1.62-2.59) and 1.50 (CI=1.28-1.75). These average neighborhood effects on CHD (fixed effects) remained almost unaltered after inclusion of the individual-level variables. The neighborhood-level variance indicated significant differences in CHD between neighborhoods, and the neighborhood-level and individual-level variables partly explained the variance between neighborhoods (random effects). Public safety and social stability in socially disorganized neighborhoods need to be improved in order to promote cardiovascular health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Crime*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Unemployment*
  • Urban Population*
  • Violence*