B3532 - The role of neighbourhood conditions in mental health responses to the Covid-19 lockdown - 15/05/2020

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Joanne Newbury | Population Health Sciences (United Kingdom)
Dr Rebecca Pearson, Andy Boyd
Title of project: 
The role of neighbourhood conditions in mental health responses to the Covid-19 lockdown
Proposal summary: 

The Covid-19 lockdown has shone a light on the importance of where we live for our health and wellbeing. Living in the countryside; having a garden; living in a cohesive neighbourhood; being within walking distance of a park: these factors create very different lockdown experiences, even between neighbours living a stone’s throw apart.

Research into neighbourhood factors and mental health is not new. However, lockdown has created a natural experiment in which people’s activities outside the home are largely being confined to their immediate neighbourhoods. Lockdown has thus amplified the potential detrimental – and protective – effects of neighbourhood conditions on our mental health. Investigating this relationship is not simple. It is important to take into consideration potential factors that might confound associations (e.g., prior mental health). It is also important to take into consideration how individual-level factors such as housing type might modify any associations of neighbourhood characteristics with mental health.

The current project will explore the relationship between neighbourhood characteristics during lockdown – including population density, greenspace, deprivation, and social fragmentation – and people’s symptoms of anxiety and depression during and after lockdown. Analyses will control for key confounders of the association. Moderation of associations according to household composition, housing type, garden access, and perceived access to nature will be explored.

Impact of research: 
The findings will be informative for immediate Covid-19 policy and longer-term policy. In terms of Covid-19 policy, public health experts warn that persistent or intermittent lockdown measures may be required until a Covid-19 vaccine is available – which is not anticipated until 2021. Understanding the role of neighbourhood conditions in mental health during lockdown is therefore an urgent priority that could help to tailor lockdown and social distancing guidance to mitigate impacts on mental health for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Longer term, the findings will provide valuable new data on neighbourhood conditions and mental health, and this evidence-base will help policymakers to make the economic case for healthier urban design.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 6 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 7 May, 2020
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Social science