Pathways to mental health improvement in a community-led area-based empowerment initiative: Evidence from the Big Local ‘Communities in Control’ study, England

V. J. McGowan, J. Wistow, S. J. Lewis, J. Popay, C. Bambra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background:
Area-based initiatives that include a focus on community empowerment are increasingly being seen as potentially an important way of improving health and reducing inequalities. However, there is little empirical evidence on the pathways between communities having more control and health outcomes.PurposeTo identify pathways to health improvement in a community-led area-based community empowerment initiative.

Methods:
Longitudinal data on mental health, community control, area belonging, satisfaction, social cohesion and safety were collected over two time points, 6 months apart from 48 participants engaged in the Big Local programme, England. Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) was used to explore pathways to health improvement.

Results:
There was no clear single pathway that led to mental health improvement but positive changes in ‘neighbourhood belonging’ featured in 4/5 health improvement configurations. Further, where respondents experienced no improvement in key social participation/control factors, they experienced no health improvement.

Conclusion:
This study demonstrates a potential pathway between an improvement in ‘neighbourhood belonging’ and improved mental health outcomes in a community empowerment initiative. Increasing neighbourhood belonging could be a key target for mental health improvement interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-857
JournalJournal of Public Health
Volume41
Issue number4
Early online date29 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • area-based initiatives
  • community empowerment
  • health improvement
  • health inequalities
  • qualitative comparative analysis

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