Int J Health Geogr - Measuring the impact of spatial network layout on community social cohesion: a cross-sectional study.


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CKGROUND: There is now a substantial body of research suggesting that social cohesion, a collective characteristic measured by the levels of trust, reciprocity and formation of strong social bonds within communities, is an important factor in determining health. Of particular interest is the extent to which factors in the built environment facilitate, or impede, the development of social bonds. Severance is a characteristic of physical environments which is hypothesized to inhibit cohesion. In the current study we test a number of characteristics of spatial networks which could be hypothesized to relate either to severance, or directly to community cohesion. Particular focus is given to our most promising variable for further analysis (Convex Hull Maximum Radius 600 m).METHODS: In the current study we analysed social cohesion as measured at Enumeration District level, aggregated from a survey of 10,892 individuals aged 18 to 74 years in the Caerphilly Health and Social Needs Cohort Study, 2001. In a data mining process we test 16 network variables on multiple scales. The variable showing the most promise is validated in a test on an independent data set. We then conduct a multivariate regression also including Townsend deprivation scores and urban/rural status as predictor variables for social cohesion.RESULTS: We find convex hull maximum radius at a 600 m scale to have a small but highly significant correlation with social cohesion on both data sets. Deprivation has a stronger effect. Splitting the analysis by tertile of deprivation, we find that the effect of severance as measured by this variable is strongest in the most deprived areas. A range of spatial scales are tested, with the strongest effects being observed at scales that match typical walking distances.CONCLUSION: We conclude that physical connectivity as measured in this paper has a significant effect on social cohesion, and that our measure is unlikely to proxy either deprivation or the urban/rural status of communities. Possible mechanisms for the effect include intrinsic navigability of areas, and the existence of a focal route on which people can meet on foot. Further investigation may lead to much stronger predictive models of social cohesion.

Resumo Limpo

ckground now substanti bodi research suggest social cohes collect characterist measur level trust reciproc format strong social bond within communiti import factor determin health particular interest extent factor built environ facilit imped develop social bond sever characterist physic environ hypothes inhibit cohes current studi test number characterist spatial network hypothes relat either sever direct communiti cohes particular focus given promis variabl analysi convex hull maximum radius mmethod current studi analys social cohes measur enumer district level aggreg survey individu age year caerphilli health social need cohort studi data mine process test network variabl multipl scale variabl show promis valid test independ data set conduct multivari regress also includ townsend depriv score urbanrur status predictor variabl social cohesionresult find convex hull maximum radius m scale small high signific correl social cohes data set depriv stronger effect split analysi tertil depriv find effect sever measur variabl strongest depriv area rang spatial scale test strongest effect observ scale match typic walk distancesconclus conclud physic connect measur paper signific effect social cohes measur unlik proxi either depriv urbanrur status communiti possibl mechan effect includ intrins navig area exist focal rout peopl can meet foot investig may lead much stronger predict model social cohes

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