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.

Methods:
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.

Results:
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.

Conclusions:
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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