The growing evidence of neighborhood influences on health points to the need for investigation of health-relevant features of local environments. This study examines one potentially health-enhancing neighborhood resource, urban parks, to test for systematic differences in material conditions between areas. Twenty-eight parks selected from six urban Montreal neighborhoods along a health status gradient are qualitatively assessed. While neighborhood parks showed a variety of feature quality ratings, those located in poor health areas displayed several pronounced material disadvantages, including concentration of physical incivilities, limited provision of facilities for physical exercise, and adjacency to industrial sites and multi-lane roads. Equalizing park quality between areas may be an important step for public health promotion.
Diabetes prevalence is associated with low socioeconomic status (SES), but less is known about the relationship between SES and diabetes incidence.
Data from eight cycles of the National Population Health Survey (1994/1995 through 2008/2009) are used. A sample of 5,547 women and 6,786 men aged 18 or older who did not have diabetes in 1994/1995 was followed to determine if household income and educational attainment were associated with increased risk of diagnosis of or death from diabetes by 2008/2009. Three proportional hazards models were applied for income and for education--for men, for women and for both sexes combined. Independent variables were measured at baseline (1994/1995). Diabetes diagnosis was assessed by self-report of diagnosis by a health professional. Diabetes death was based on ICD-10 codes E10-E14.
Among people aged 18 or older in 1994/1995 who were free of diabetes, 7.2% of men and 6.3% of women had developed or died from the disease by 2008/2009. Lower-income women were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than were those in high-income households. This association was attenuated, but not eliminated, by ethno-cultural background and obesity/overweight. Associations with lower educational attainment in unadjusted models were almost completely mediated by demographic and behavioural variables.
Social gradients in diabetes incidence cannot be explained entirely by demographic and behavioural variables.
Immigrants to Canada are less likely to report depression compared with the non-immigrant population. This healthy migrant effect has not so far been explained by demographic and socioeconomic determinants of health.
The present study examined whether the psychological health advantage of immigrants varied across Canadian health regions and investigated the hypothesis of immigrant density as a determinant of immigrant mental health advantage.
Data from the 2000-2001 Canadian Community Health Survey were used to build multi-level models estimating variation in depression within and between health regions by immigrant/visible minority status.
Immigrant and visible minority residents were less likely to experience depression compared with the general population. Depression varied across health regions and the extent of variation was greater for visible minorities. The likelihood of depression decreased with increasing percentage of immigrants in the region among visible minority participants but not among whites.
The protection against depression afforded by immigrant and visible minority status in Canada appears to depend on contextual factors, notably the percentage of immigrants in the region. Future work should seek to better characterize the experiences of visible minorities in different settings.
This paper examines neighbourhood effects on health within a large Canadian city--Montréal. Our approach is to consider that individual health outcomes are determined both by individual and neighbourhood characteristics and we consciously take on the problem of neighbourhood definition by developing 'natural' neighbourhoods. Our data come from the Montréal health region sample of the 2000/1 Canadian Community Health Survey, a comprehensive national survey that contains information on health outcomes as well as behavioural and socio-demographic information. Respondents were placed into 'naturally' defined neighbourhoods as opposed to arbitrary geostatistical units, responding to calls in the literature to develop more meaningful units of analysis. We also compare the 'natural' neighbourhood approach with the use of standard census tracts as the unit of analysis. Results show significant between-neighbourhood variation in health status with about 3% of the variance in the Health Utilities Index captured at the neighbourhood level, even after controlling for a variety of socio-demographic and behavioural variables at the individual level. Models using census tracts as the unit of analysis had remarkably similar results to the 'natural' neighbourhood models, suggesting that census tracts are good proxies for natural neighbourhood boundaries in studies of neighbourhood effects on health.
A large and growing body of literature investigating the negative relationship between income inequality and population health (at different geographic scales) has developed over the past several years, although the relationship is not universal apparently. We argue that there has been a peculiar absence of geography in studies of the relationship between income inequality and population health and that explanations for the mixed results have been hampered by an inattention to geography.
Using methods of spatial pattern visualization, outlier analysis and comparative case study analysis, we investigate the role of "geography" as a means of "unpacking" the relationship between income inequality and health in Canada and the United States.
The findings demonstrate how analyzing the study of income inequality and population health in the context of place makes otherwise obscure patterns visible and opens up new questions and opportunities for investigating how unequal places may be less healthy than more egalitarian ones. Rather than dismissing the importance of income inequality and health because it does not appear to exist at all times and in all places, we raise questions such as: Under what conditions does the relationship between income inequality and population health hold? and What, if anything, is similar about places where it does (or does not) hold? as crucial questions requiring a different kind of analysis than has been common in this literature.
We recommend that place and health studies seek this balance between universalistic and particularistic explanations of place and health relationships in order to best understand the socio-geographic production of health.
The relation between income inequality and mortality in Canada is unclear, and modifying effects of characteristics such as immigration have not been examined.
Using a cohort of 2 million Canadians followed for mortality from 1991-2001, we calculated HRs and 95% CIs for income inequality of 140 urban areas (Gini coefficient, Atkinson index, coefficient of variation; expressed as continuous variables) and working age (25-64 y) or post-working age (=65 y) mortality in men and women according to immigration status, accounting for individual and neighbourhood income, and sociodemographic characteristics. Major causes of mortality were examined.
Relative to low income inequality, high inequality was associated with greater working age mortality in male (HR(Gini) 1.08, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.13) and female (HR(Gini) 1.12, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.18) non-immigrants for all income inequality indictors. Results were similar for female post-working age mortality. There was no relation between income inequality and mortality in immigrants. Among Canadian-born individuals, associations were greater for alcohol-related mortality (both sexes) and smoking-related causes/transport injuries (women).
Income inequality is associated with mortality in Canadian-born individuals but not immigrants.
We examined the incremental influence on survival of neighbourhood material and social deprivation while accounting for individual level socioeconomic status in a large population-based cohort of Canadians.
More than 500,000 adults were followed for 22 years between 1982 and 2004. Tax records provided information on sex, income, marital status and postal code while a linkage was used to determine vital status. Cox models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) for quintiles of neighbourhood material and social deprivation.
There were 180,000 deaths over the follow-up period. In unadjusted analyses, those living in the most materially deprived neighbourhoods had elevated risks of mortality (HR(males) 1.37, 95% CI: 1.33-1.41; HR(females) 1.20, 95% CI: 1.16-1.24) when compared with those living in the least deprived neighbourhoods. Mortality risk was also elevated for those living in socially deprived neighbourhoods (HR(males) 1.15, CI: 1.12-1.18; HR(females) 1.15, CI: 1.12-1.19). Mortality risk associated with material deprivation remained elevated in models that adjusted for individual factors (HR(males) 1.20, CI: 1.17-1.24; HR(females) 1.16, CI: 1.13-1.20) and this was also the case for social deprivation (HR(males) 1.12, CI: 1.09-1.15; HR(females) 1.09, CI: 1.05-1.12). Immigrant neighbourhoods were protective of mortality risk for both sexes. Being poor and living in the most socially advantageous neighbourhoods translated into a survival gap of 10% over those in the most socially deprived neighbourhoods. The gap for material neighbourhood deprivation was 7%.
Living in socially and materially deprived Canadian neighbourhoods was associated with elevated mortality risk while we noted a "healthy immigrant neighbourhood effect". For those with low family incomes, living in socially and materially deprived areas negatively affected survival beyond their individual circumstances.
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Some neighbourhoods in urban areas are characterised by concentrations of socially and materially deprived populations. Additionally, levels of ambient air pollution in a city can be variable at the local scale and can create disparities in air quality between neighbourhoods. Socioeconomic and physical characteristics of neighbourhood environments can affect the health and well-being of local residents. In this paper we identify whether neighbourhoods in Montreal, Canada characterised by social and material deprivation have higher levels of ambient air pollution than do others. We collected two-week integrated samples of nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) at 133 sites in Montreal during three seasons between 2005 and 2006. We used these data in a geographic information system, along with data describing characteristics of land use, roads, and traffic, to create a spatial model of predicted mean annual concentrations of NO(2) across Montreal. Next, we collected neighbourhood socioeconomic information for 501 census tracts and overlaid their boundaries on the pollution surface. We calculated Pearson correlation coefficients and 95% confidence intervals (CI) between neighbourhood-level indicators of deprivation and levels of ambient NO(2). We found associations between concentrations of NO(2) and neighbourhood-level indicators of material deprivation, including median household income, and with indicators of social deprivation, including proportion of people living alone. We identified specific neighbourhoods that were characterised by a double burden of high levels of deprivation and high concentrations of ambient NO(2). Because of the particular social geography in Montreal, we found that not all deprived neighbourhoods had high levels of pollution and that some affluent neighbourhoods in the downtown core had high levels. Our results underscore the importance of considering social contexts in interpreting general associations between social and environmental risks to population health.
Given the health benefits of walking, there is interest in understanding how physical environments favor walking. Although GIS-derived measures of land-use mix, street connectivity, and residential density are commonly combined into indices to assess how conducive neighborhoods are to walking, field validation of these measures is limited.
To assess the relationship between audit- and GIS-derived measures of overall neighborhood walkability and between objective (audit- and GIS-derived) and participant-reported measures of walkability.
Walkability assessments were conducted in 2009. Street-level audits were conducted using a modified version of the Pedestrian Environmental Data Scan. GIS analyses were used to derive land-use mix, street connectivity, and residential density. Participant perceptions were assessed using a self-administered questionnaire. Audit, GIS, and participant-reported indices of walkability were calculated. Spearman correlation coefficients were used to assess the relationships between measures. All analyses were conducted in 2012.
The correlation between audit- and GIS-derived measures of overall walkability was high (R=0.7 [95% CI=0.6, 0.8]); the correlations between objective (audit and GIS-derived) and participant-reported measures were low (R=0.2 [95% CI=0.06, 0.3]; R=0.2 [95% CI=0.04, 0.3], respectively). For comparable audit and participant-reported items, correlations were higher for items that appeared more objective (e.g., sidewalk presence, R=0.4 [95% CI=0.3, 0.5], versus safety, R=0.1 [95% CI=0.003, 0.3]).
The GIS-derived measure of walkability correlated well with the in-field audit, suggesting that it is reasonable to use GIS-derived measures in place of more labor-intensive audits. Interestingly, neither audit- nor GIS-derived measures correlated well with participants' perceptions of walkability.