Evaluating same-source bias in the association between neighbourhood characteristics and depression in a community sample from Toronto, Canada

Authors: Antony Chum*, Brock University, Department of Applied Health Sciences; St Michael's Hospital, Centre for Urban Solutions
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Medical and Health Geography, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: neighbourhoods, social capital, depression, mental health
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Marshall South, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Background & Purpose:
It is common in prior studies of the influence of neighbourhood characteristics on mental health to use participant-assessed neighbourhood exposures, which can lead to same-source bias since an individual’s mental health status may influence their judgement of their neighbourhood. To avoid this potential bias, we evaluated the use of individually-assessed neighbourhood exposures to understand how they compare to collectively-assessed measures (by aggregating multiple responses within the same neighbourhood). This would increase the validity of the measure by decoupling the neighbourhood measure from an individual’s mental health status.

We conducted a stratified-randomised survey of 2411 adults across 87 census tracts in Toronto, Canada to investigate how self-reported (individually-assessed) social environmental neighbourhood measures compared to aggregated, collectively-assessed, measures for neighbourhood problems/disorder, safety, service quality, and linking, bonding & bridging social capital. The outcome, experience of major depression in the past 12 months, was measured using the Composite International Diagnostic Studies Depression Scale.

1) Individually-assessed neighbourhood problems, 2) low (individually-assessed) neighbourhood safety, 3) low (individually-assessed) neighbourhood service quality, and4) low (individually-assessed) linking social capital were independently associated with depression (all at least p<0.05). However, when the individually assessed exposures were aggregated over residents in the same neighbourhood, none of them were significantly associated with depression.

Our study provides evidence for same-source bias in studies of social environmental determinants of depression that relies on individually-assessed neighbourhood measures.

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