3 years ago

Contextual characteristics associated with the perceived neighbourhood scale in a cross-sectional study in a large urban centre in Brazil

Introduction

Health outcomes have been associated with physical and social characteristics of neighbourhoods, but little is known about the relationship between contextual factors and perceived neighbourhood scale.

Objective

To identify the contextual factors associated with self-perceived neighbourhood scale.

Methods

We analysed data from a cross-sectional population-based study in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, that took place in 2008–2009. The dependent variable was perceived neighbourhood, encoded as an ordinal scale based on a brief description of the concept of the neighbourhood, and two independent scales relating distance, expressed in terms of geography and time. Street connectivity, demographic density and residents’ perceptions of the neighbourhoods’ physical and social environment were used as contextual predictors. Individual characteristics were used as covariates. Multilevel ordinal logistic regression models estimated the association between perceived neighbourhood scale and contextual characteristics.

Results

Residents that perceive better walkability (OR 2.96; 95% CI 1.29 to 3.82) and high amounts of violence (OR 1.35; 95% CI 1.12 to 1.62) perceived their neighbourhoods to be larger, even after adjusting for individual characteristics.

Conclusion

There are contextual factors that are associated with self-perceived neighbourhood scale. Careful definition of neighbourhood scale is a key factor in improving the results of eco-epidemiological studies. Although these findings must be further explored in other studies, these results can contribute to a better understanding of an appropriate choice of neighbourhood scale, especially for cities in Latin America.

Publisher URL: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/8/8/e021445

DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-021445

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