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Soc Sci Med. 2016 Nov;168:16-29. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.08.047. Epub 2016 Aug 28.

Research on neighborhood effects on health in the United States: A systematic review of study characteristics.

Author information

1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.
2
Harvard Chan School of Public Health, USA; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, USA.
3
Harvard Chan School of Public Health, USA.
4
Harvard Chan School of Public Health, USA. Electronic address: svsubram@hsph.harvard.edu.

Abstract

Neighborhood effects on health research has grown over the past 20 years. While the substantive findings of this literature have been published in systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and commentaries, operational details of the research have been understudied. We identified 7140 multi-level neighborhoods and health papers published on US populations between 1995 and 2014, and present data on the study characteristics of the 256 papers that met our inclusion criteria. Our results reveal rapid growth in neighborhoods and health research in the mid-2000s, illustrate the dominance of observational cross-sectional study designs, and show a heavy reliance on single-level, census-based neighborhood definitions. Socioeconomic indicators were the most commonly analyzed neighborhood variables and body mass was the most commonly studied health outcome. Well-known challenges associated with neighborhood effects research were infrequently acknowledged. We discuss how these results move the agenda forward for neighborhoods and health research.

KEYWORDS:

Multi-level; Neighborhoods; Social epidemiology; Study design; USA

PMID:
27637089
PMCID:
PMC5065354
DOI:
10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.08.047
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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