Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of neighborhood cohesion and stressors with depressive symptoms in the multiethnic study of atherosclerosis

Ann Epidemiol. 2009 Jan;19(1):49-57. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2008.10.002.


Purpose: This study examined associations of neighborhood social cohesion, violence, and aesthetic quality with depressive symptoms among 2,619 healthy adults aged 45-84 years enrolled in the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

Methods: Neighborhood characteristics were estimated by surveying a separate sample of area residents. Measures of aesthetic environment, social cohesion, and violence were combined into a summary score with increasing scores indicating more favorable environments. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale. Marginal maximum likelihood estimation was used to assess associations of neighborhood characteristics with CES-D score at baseline and with the odds of developing incident depression (CES-D score >/=16 or use of antidepressants) over a 4-5 year follow-up among persons with CES-D less than 16 at baseline. Models were adjusted for age, income, education, and race/ethnicity.

Results: Lower levels of social cohesion and aesthetic quality and higher levels of violence were associated with higher mean CES-D scores in men and women (P for trend <0.01, adjusted mean difference in CES-D per 1 SD increase in summary score -1.01 [95% confidence interval = -1.85, -0.17] and -1.08 [95% confidence interval = -1.88, -0.28] in men and women, respectively). Associations of neighborhood characteristics with incident depression were in the expected direction for women but confidence intervals were wide (odds ratio of incident depression = 0.89 [0.63, 1.26]). No association was seen for men (odds ratio = 0.96 [0.74, 1.25]).

Conclusion: Neighborhood social cohesion, aesthetic quality, and violence are associated with the presence of depressive symptoms in residents.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atherosclerosis / ethnology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Violence / ethnology