Rating neighborhoods for older adult health: results from the African American Health study

Andresen, Elena M.; Malmstrom, Theodore K.; Wolinsky, Fredric D.; Schootman, Mario; Miller, J. Philip; Miller, Douglas K.
January 2008
BMC Public Health;2008, Vol. 8, p35
Academic Journal
Background: Social theories suggest that neighborhood quality affects health. Observer ratings of neighborhoods should be subjected to psychometric tests. Methods: African American Health (AAH) study subjects were selected from two diverse St. Louis metropolitan catchment areas. Interviewers rated streets and block faces for 816 households. Items and a summary scale were compared across catchment areas and to the resident respondents' global neighborhood assessments. Results: Individual items and the scale were strongly associated with both the catchment area and respondent assessments. Ratings based on both block faces did not improve those based on a single block face. Substantial interviewer effects were observed despite strong discriminant and concurrent validity. Conclusion: Observer ratings show promise in understanding the effect of neighborhood on health outcomes. The AAH Neighborhood Assessment Scale and other rating systems should be tested further in diverse settings.


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