Neighbourhood environment and depressive symptoms among the elderly in Hong Kong and Singapore

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Abstract

Background: Geriatric depression is a growing public health issue worldwide. This study aims at identifying the relevant neighbourhood attributes, separate from the individual-level characteristics, that are related to the onset of depressive disorders among the geriatric population. Methods: This study adopts a structural equation modelling (SEM) approach to understand the effect of the neighbourhood environment on geriatric depression, as identified by data collected from community-dwelling elderly living in Hong Kong and Singapore. Using network buffers as the unit of analysis, different features of the neighbourhood environment are captured and analysed. SEM also examines the strength and direction of the relationships using different parameters at both the individual and neighbourhood levels, as well as the prevalence of depressive symptoms among the elderly. Results: The total sample size is 347, with 173 and 174 elderly people in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively. The results show that in addition to one’s physical health status, both objective and subjective neighbourhood factors including the size of parks, land use mix, walkability, and connectivity are all statistically significant influential factors in geriatric depression. In particular, enhancing walkability and providing more parks at the neighbourhood level can bring mental health benefits. Conclusions: Public health policy initiatives aimed at tackling geriatric depression can be achieved by adopting a holistic and integrative approach to better prepare the neighbourhood environment in an ageing society.

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Lam, W. W. Y., Loo, B. P. Y., & Mahendran, R. (2020). Neighbourhood environment and depressive symptoms among the elderly in Hong Kong and Singapore. International Journal of Health Geographics, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12942-020-00238-w

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