Journal Article

Are socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods deprived of health-related community resources?

Jamie Pearce, Karen Witten, Rosemary Hiscock and Tony Blakely

in International Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of International Epidemiological Association

Volume 36, issue 2, pages 348-355
Published in print April 2007 | ISSN: 0300-5771
Published online December 2006 | e-ISSN: 1464-3685 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyl267
Are socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods deprived of health-related community resources?

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Background Recent work in a number of countries has identified growing geographical inequalities in health between deprived and non-deprived neighbourhoods. The health gaps observed cannot be entirely explained by differences in the characteristics of individuals living in those neighbourhoods, which has led to a concerted international public health research effort to determine what contextual features of neighbourhoods matter. This article reports on access to potentially health-promoting community resources across all neighbourhoods in New Zealand. Prevailing international opinion is that access to community resources is worse in deprived neighbourhoods.

Methods Geographical Information Systems were used to calculate geographical access to 16 types of community resources (including recreational amenities, and shopping, educational and health facilities) in 38 350 small census areas across the country. The distribution of these access measures by neighbourhood socioeconomic deprivation was determined.

Results For 15 out of 16 measures of community resources, access was clearly better in more deprived neighbourhoods. For example, the travel time to large supermarkets was ∼80% greater in the least deprived quintile of neighbourhoods compared with the most deprived quintile.

Conclusions These results challenge the widely held, but largely untested, view that areas of high social disadvantage have poorer access to community resources. Poor locational access to community resources among deprived neighbourhoods in New Zealand does not appear to be an explanation of poorer health in these neighbourhoods. If anything, a pro-equity distribution of community resources may be preventing even wider disparities in neighbourhood inequalities in health.

Keywords: Health inequality; neighbourhoods; context; community resources; New Zealand

Journal Article.  3360 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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