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The relationship of built environment to perceived social support and psychological distress in Hispanic elders: The role of "eyes on the street."

TitleThe relationship of built environment to perceived social support and psychological distress in Hispanic elders: The role of "eyes on the street."
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBrown, SC, Mason, CA, Lombard, JL, Martinez, F, Plater-Zyberk, E, Spokane, AR, Newman, FL, Pantin, H, Szapocznik, J
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social SciencesThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume2
Pagination234-246
Date PublishedMar
ISBN Number1079-5014<br/>1758-5368
Accession NumberPeer Reviewed Journal: 2009-05219-009
Keywords*Aging, *Built Environment, *Distress, *Latinos/Latinas, *Social Support, Gerontology [2860], Human Male Female Adulthood (18 yrs & older) Aged (65 yrs & older), social support, psychological distress, Hispanic elders, built environment, us
AbstractBackground: Research on contextual and neighborhood effects increasingly includes the built (physical) environment's influences on health and social well-being. A population-based study examined whether architectural features of the built environment theorized to promote observations and social interactions (e.g., porches, windows) predict Hispanic elders' psychological distress. Methods: Coding of built environment features of all 3,857 lots across 403 blocks in East Little Havana, Florida, and enumeration of elders in 16,000 households was followed by assessments of perceived social support and psychological distress in a representative sample of 273 low socioeconomic status (SES) Hispanic elders. Structural-equation modeling was used to assess relationships between block-level built environment features, elders' perceived social support, and psychological distress. Results: Architectural features of the front entrance such as porches that promote visibility from a building's exterior were positively associated with perceived social support. In contrast, architectural features such as window areas that promote visibility from a building's interior were negatively associated with perceived social support. Perceived social support in turn was associated with reduced psychological distress after controlling for demographics. Additionally, perceived social support mediated the relationship of built environment variables to psychological distress. Conclusions: Architectural features that facilitate direct, in-person interactions may be beneficial for Hispanic elders' mental health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract).