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Ann Epidemiol. 2016 Apr;26(4):261-6. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2016.02.006. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

The joint contribution of neighborhood poverty and social integration to mortality risk in the United States.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers, School of Health Related Professions, Newark, NJ. Electronic address:
Department of Community Health and Social Sciences, City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, New York, NY.
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ.
Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY.
Department of Epidemiology, Rutgers School of Public Health, Newark, NJ.



A well-established literature has shown that social integration strongly patterns health, including mortality risk. However, the extent to which living in high-poverty neighborhoods and having few social ties jointly pattern survival in the United States has not been examined.


We analyzed data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994) linked to mortality follow-up through 2006 and census-based neighborhood poverty. We fit Cox proportional hazards models to estimate associations between social integration and neighborhood poverty on all-cause mortality as independent predictors and in joint-effects models using the relative excess risk due to interaction to test for interaction on an additive scale.


In the joint-effects model adjusting for age, gender, race/ ethnicity, and individual-level socioeconomic status, exposure to low social integration alone was associated with increased mortality risk (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.42, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.28-1.59) while living in an area of high poverty alone did not have a significant effect (HR: 1.10; 95% CI: 0.95-1.28) when compared with being jointly unexposed. Individuals simultaneously living in neighborhoods characterized by high poverty and having low levels of social integration had an increased risk of mortality (HR: 1.63; 95% CI: 1.35-1.96). However, relative excess risk due to interaction results were not statistically significant.


Social integration remains an important determinant of mortality risk in the United States independent of neighborhood poverty.


Mortality; Neighborhood; Social determinants of health; Social support

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