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.