Determinants of Mental Health and Self-Rated Health: A Model of Socioeconomic Status, Neighborhood Safety, and Physical Activity

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Objectives. We investigated the underlying mechanisms of the influence of socioeconomic status (SES) on mental health and self-rated health (SRH), and evaluated how these relationships might vary by race/ethnicity, age, and gender.

Methods. We analyzed data of 44 921 adults who responded to the 2009 California Health Interview Survey. We used a path analysis to test effects of SES, neighborhood safety, and physical activity on mental health and SRH.

Results. Low SES was associated with greater neighborhood safety concerns, which were negatively associated with physical activity, which was then negatively related to mental health and SRH. This model was similar across different racial/ethnic and gender groups, but mean levels in the constructs differed across groups.

Conclusions. SES plays an important role in SRH and mental health, and this effect is further nuanced by race/ethnicity and gender. Identifying the psychological (neighborhood safety) and behavioral (physical activity) factors that influence mental health and SRH is critical for tailoring interventions and designing programs that can improve overall health.

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Oanh L. Meyer, PhD, Laura Castro-Schilo, PhD, and Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhDAt the time of writing, Oanh L. Meyer was with the Center for Reducing Health Disparities, University of California, Davis and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco. Laura Castro-Schilo was with the Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola was with the Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the Department of Internal Medicine, University of California, Davis. “Determinants of Mental Health and Self-Rated Health: A Model of Socioeconomic Status, Neighborhood Safety, and Physical Activity”, American Journal of Public Health 104, no. 9 (September 1, 2014): pp. 1734-1741.

https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302003

PMID: 25033151