Wednesday, 18 September 2013

More on the benefits of neighbourliness Via a piece by Sarah Goodyear in Atlantic, here’s some significant research evidence supporting the link between local social cohesion and positive health outcomes. Researchers from the University of Michigan studied a wide range of potential confounding variables using a large and nationally representative sample of older adults. They found that perceived ‘neighbourhood social cohesion’ was strongly associated with both stroke mortality and non-fatal stroke. ‘Each standard deviation increase in perceived neighborhood social cohesion was associated with a 15% reduced risk in stroke incidence after adjusting for age, gender, chronic illnesses, marital status, education, and total wealth. The relationship persisted after adjusting further for behavioral and psychological covariates. Even after adjusting for two individual-level social engagement measures, factors that may have confounded a respondent's perceived neighborhood social cohesion rating, perceived neighborhood social cohesion was associated with a reduced risk of stroke.’ That sounds pretty thorough to me. And towards the end of the article the authors speculate that: ‘residents may experience a lack of perceived neighborhood social cohesion because their neighborhood lacks an infrastructure that allows them to mingle and build community. A lack of these community resources may inhibit healthy behaviors.’ (Emphasis added) In the US, according to this article, stroke is responsible for an estimated $25.2 billion in direct costs. Porportionately, the UK figure would presumably be lower but not luxuriously so. I think I spy a way of reducing it. This probably needs to be spelled out very slowly for A Politician Near You. But it’s commonsense really: investing in the local community sector to generate local social capital and cohesion will bring health benefits of huge economic significance. Let me know if you come across a politician who gets it.

Recent Comments