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Articles   |    
Comparing Neighborhoods of Adults With Serious Mental Illness and of the General Population: Research Implications
Thomas Byrne, Ph.D.; Janet Prvu Bettger, Sc.D.; Eugene Brusilovskiy, M.U.S.A.; Yin-Ling Irene Wong, Ph.D.; Stephen Metraux, Ph.D.; Mark S. Salzer, Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2013; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201200365
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Dr. Byrne is affiliated with the School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, 3701 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (e-mail: byrnet@sp2.upenn.edu). Dr. Prvu Bettger is with the School of Nursing, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Mr. Brusilovskiy and Dr. Salzer are with the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia. Dr. Wong is with the School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Dr. Metraux is with the Department of Health Policy and Public Health, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia.

Copyright © 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association

Abstract

Objective  The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health emphasizes the importance of assessing the impact of environmental factors on functioning and disability. Drawing on this emphasis, this study used a set of objective measures to compare the characteristics of neighborhoods of adults with serious mental illness and of the general population. It also examined the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and neighborhood concentration of persons with serious mental illness.

Methods  The sample comprised 15,246 adults who were treated for serious mental illness in Philadelphia between 1997 and 2000. Principal-components analysis of 22 neighborhood characteristics resulted in an ideal-factor solution of six components. The mean values of each component in neighborhoods of persons with serious mental illness were compared with values in an equally sized group of neighborhoods created by randomly generated addresses representative of the city’s general population. Ordinary least-squares regression was used to assess the association between neighborhood characteristics and neighborhood concentration of persons with serious mental illness.

Results  Neighborhoods in which adults with serious mental illness resided had higher levels of physical and structural inadequacy, drug-related activity, and crime than comparison neighborhoods. Higher levels of physical and structural inadequacy, crime, drug-related activity, social instability, and social isolation were associated with higher concentration of persons with serious mental illness in the neighborhood’s adult population.

Conclusions  The differences in neighborhood characteristics identified in this study point to factors that merit closer attention as potential barriers or facilitators in the functioning, participation, and community integration of persons with serious mental illness.

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Topics

neighborhood ; crime
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Table 1Characteristics of 1,785 neighborhoods in Philadelphia in 2000a
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a Neighborhoods were defined as block groups, clusters of several street blocks that are the smallest geographic unit for which the U.S. Census Bureau provides aggregated data.

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b PPD, Philadelphia Police Department; L and I, Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspection; PGW, Philadelphia Gas Works; PRD, Philadelphia Revenue Department; BRT, Board of Revision of Taxes

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Table 2Principal-components analysis of 22 characteristics of 1,785 neighborhoods in Philadelphia in 2000a
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a The analysis explained 62% of the variance among neighborhoods.

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b Factor loadings were greater than .5.

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Table 3Characteristics of neighborhoods of persons with serious mental illness and of a comparison groupa
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a The data reflect mean values for each characteristic among 15,244 persons with serious mental illness and a comparison group representing 15,238 randomly generated addresses.

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b df=30,480 for all analyses

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Table 4Regression of concentration of persons with serious mental illness and characteristics of 1,785 neighborhoods
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a df=9 and 1,775

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