Social and physical neighbourhood characteristics and 10-year incidence of depression and anxiety in older adults: Results from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam

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OBJECTIVE: A growing literature suggests that neighbourhood characteristics are associated with mental health outcomes, but the evidence in older adults is inconsistent. We investigated the association of neighbourhood characteristics, pertaining to demographic, socio-economic, social and physical environment domains, with the subsequent 10-year incidence of depression and anxiety, in Dutch older adults.

METHODS: In the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam depressive and anxiety symptoms were assessed four times between 2005/2006 and 2015/2016, using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (n = 1365) and the Anxiety subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (n = 1420). Neighbourhood-level data on urban density, percent population over 65 years of age, percent immigrants, average house price, average income, percent low-income earners, social security beneficiaries, social cohesion, safety, proximity to retail facilities, housing quality, percent green space, percent water coverage, air pollution (particulate matter (PM2.5)), and traffic noise, were obtained for study baseline years 2005/2006. Cox proportional hazard regression models, clustered within neighbourhood, were used to estimate the association between each neighbourhood-level characteristic and the incidence of depression and anxiety.

RESULTS: The incidence of depression and anxiety was 19.9 and 13.2 per 1000 person-years, respectively. Neighbourhood characteristics were not associated with the incidence of depression. However, various neighbourhood characteristics were associated with an increased incidence of anxiety, including: higher urban density level, higher percent immigrants, greater proximity to retail facilities, lower housing quality score, lower safety score, higher PM2.5 levels and less green space.

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that several neighbourhood characteristics are associated with anxiety but not with depression incidence in older age. Several of these characteristics have the potential to be modifiable and thus could serve as a target for interventions at the neighbourhood-level in improving anxiety, provided that future studies replicate our findings and provide further evidence for a causal effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115963
Pages (from-to)115963
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date12 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

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