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Improving mental health through the regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods

Improving mental health through the regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods: a natural experiment


In 2001, the Welsh Government, United Kingdom, funded Communities First, a program of neighbourhood regeneration delivered to the 100 most deprived of the 881 electoral wards in Wales.

In the ComFi study, we examined the association between neighbourhood regeneration and mental health. Information on regeneration activities in 35 intervention areas (n=4,197 subjects) and 75 control areas (n=6,695 subjects) were linked to data on mental health from a cohort study with assessments in 2001 (before regeneration) and 2008 (after regeneration).

Propensity score matching was used to estimate the change in mental health in intervention versus control neighbourhoods. Baseline differences between intervention and control areas were of a similar magnitude as produced by paired randomization of neighbourhoods. 

Regeneration was associated with an improvement in the mental health of residients in the intervention areas compared to control neighbourhoods

(β Coefficient = 1.54, 95% confidence interval: 0.50, 2.59), suggesting a reduction in socioeconomic inequalities in mental health.

Residents perceptions on the quality of the neighbourhood, level of disorder, and sense of belonging each partially meditated this association. Sensitivity analyses showed there was a dose response relationship between length of residence in regeneration neighbourhoods and improvements in mental health (P-for-trend = 0.05). These results show the targeted regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods can improve mental health.


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Elizabeth McGill