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Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 54, Issue 10, pp 1189–1198 | Cite as

Development of the Australian neighborhood social fragmentation index and its association with spatial variation in depression across communities

  • Nasser BagheriEmail author
  • Philip J. Batterham
  • Luis Salvador-Carulla
  • Yingxi Chen
  • Andrew Page
  • Alison L. Calear
  • Peter Congdon
Original Paper

Abstract

Purpose

We know little about how community structures influence the risk of common mental illnesses. This study presents a new way to establish links between depression and social fragmentation, thereby identifying pathways to better target mental health services and prevention programs to the right people in the right place.

Method

A principal components analysis (PCA) was conducted to develop the proposed Australian neighborhood social fragmentation index (ANSFI). General practice clinical data were used to identify cases of diagnosed depression. The association between ANSFI and depression was explored using multilevel logistic regression. Spatial hot spots (clusters) of depression prevalence and social fragmentation at the statistical area level 1 (SA1) were examined.

Results

Two components of social fragmentation emerged, reflecting fragmentation related to family structure and mobility. Individuals treated for depression in primary care were more likely to live in neighborhoods with lower socioeconomic status and with higher social fragmentation related to family structure. A 1-SD increase in social fragmentation was associated with a 16% higher depression prevalence (95% CI 11%, 20%). However, the association attenuated with adjustment for neighborhood socio-economic status. Considerable spatial variation in social fragmentation and depression patterns across communities was observed.

Conclusions

Developing a social fragmentation index for the first time in Australia at a small area level generates a new line of knowledge on the impact of community structures on health risks. Findings may extend our understanding of the mechanisms that drive geographical variation in the incidence of common mental disorders and mental health care.

Keywords

Social fragmentation index Depression Mental disorders Geographic information systems (GIS) Primary care 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Australian Research Council‘s support of data collection via Dr Bagheri’s DECRA (DE140101570). PJB and ALC are supported by NHMRC fellowships 1083311 and 1122544. We also thank all 16 general practices from the west Adelaide area that provided clinical data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nasser Bagheri
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Philip J. Batterham
    • 1
  • Luis Salvador-Carulla
    • 1
  • Yingxi Chen
    • 2
  • Andrew Page
    • 3
  • Alison L. Calear
    • 1
  • Peter Congdon
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Mental Health ResearchThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Research School of Population HealthThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Translational Health Research InstituteWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.School of GeographyQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Visual and Decision Analytics (VIDEA) Lab, Centre for Mental Health Research, Research School of Population HealthAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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