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Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Mar 1;163(5):450-8. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

Neighborhood conditions and risk of incident lower-body functional limitations among middle-aged African Americans.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The authors investigated the association between observed neighborhood conditions and lower-body functional limitations (LBFLs) using data from 563 subjects of the African-American Health Study. This population-based cohort received in-home evaluations. Five items involving LBFL were obtained at baseline (2000-2001) and 3 years later. Subjects were considered to have LBFL if they reported difficulty on at least two of the five tasks. The external appearance of the block the respondent lived on was rated during sample enumeration by use of five items (rated excellent, good, fair, or poor). Of 563 subjects with 0-1 LBFL at baseline, 15% and 14% lived in neighborhoods with 4-5 and 2-3 fair/poor conditions, respectively. Logistic regression adjusting for propensity scores showed that persons who lived in neighborhoods with 4-5 versus 0-1 fair/poor condition were 3.07 times (95% confidence interval: 1.58, 5.94) more likely to develop two or more LBFLs. The odds ratio was 2.24 (95% confidence interval: 1.07, 4.70) when living in neighborhoods with 2-3 conditions versus 0-1 fair/poor condition. Odds ratios for individual neighborhood characteristics varied from 3.45 (fair/poor street conditions) to 2.01 (fair/poor noise level). Sensitivity analyses showed the robustness of the findings. Poor neighborhood conditions appear to be an independent contributor to the risk of incident LBFLs in middle-aged African Americans.

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