Lower social participation partly explains the association between perceived neighbourhood crime and depressive symptoms in European adults aged 50 years or older: a longitudinal mediation analysis

Gergo Baranyi*, Stefan Sieber, Jamie Pearce, Stéphane Cullati, Chris Dibben, Boris Cheval

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Neighbourhood crime likely increases the risk of developing depression among older adults. However, little is known about the underlying behavioural and social pathways. We examined the association between perceived neighbourhood crime and depressive symptoms and whether this relationship was mediated by health behaviours (physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption) and social participation. Furthermore, we explored differential vulnerability across age, gender, education and household wealth. Data were drawn from six waves of longitudinal data (from 2004/2005 to 2017) of approximately 15,000 adults aged 50 years and older, derived from the multi-national Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. Perceived neighbourhood crime and covariates were measured at baseline, time-variant mediators and depressive symptoms across all waves. Confounder-adjusted mediator and outcome models were fitted with mixed-effects models. Total association was decomposed into direct and indirect pathways applying causal mediation analyses with Monte-Carlo simulations. Perceived crime was associated with higher risk of depressive symptoms; 4.6% of the effect was mediated via lower engagement in social activities (b = 0.005; 95% CI: 0.001–0.009). No mediation was detected through physical activity, smoking or alcohol consumption. Exploratory analyses revealed that the mediating role of social participation was more pronounced among participants with low household wealth (b = 0.012; 95% CI: 0.004–0.023; 7.3% mediated). Lower engagement in social activities partly explained the association between perceived neighbourhood crime and depressive symptoms in adults aged 50 years or older. Policies targeting disadvantaged communities to prevent crime and support social participation might be beneficial for population mental health, especially among financially vulnerable older residents.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106954
JournalPreventive Medicine
Volume155
Early online date21 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

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