Neighborhood contexts and the mediating role of neighborhood social cohesion on health and psychological distress among Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents

Ann Behav Med. 2012 Feb;43(1):50-61. doi: 10.1007/s12160-011-9306-9.


Background: Neighborhood social cohesion (NSC) may contribute to understanding how neighborhood contexts influence the physical and mental health of residents.

Purpose: We examined the relation of NSC to self-rated mental and physical health and evaluated the mediating role of NSC on relations between neighborhood socioeconomic status, ethnic composition, and health.

Methods: A sample of 3,098 Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents within 597 census tracts in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona rated their health, psychological distress, and their perceptions of NSC. Census tract estimates provided neighborhood contextual measures.

Results: Neighborhood social cohesion was significantly related to better physical and mental health. Both individually rated NSC and neighborhood-level NSC mediated relations between neighborhood contexts and health outcomes. Substantive findings were consistent across Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents.

Conclusions: The findings have implications for improving ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in physical and mental health through attention to social cohesion among neighborhood residents.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arizona
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Social Class*
  • Social Environment*
  • Urban Population