Social safety, self-rated general health and physical activity: changes in area crime, area safety feelings and the role of social cohesion.

Research paper by Annemarie A Ruijsbroek, Mariël M Droomers, Peter P PP Groenewegen, Wim W Hardyns, Karien K Stronks

Indexed on: 03 Dec '14Published on: 03 Dec '14Published in: Health & Place


The aim of this study was to examine whether changes over time in reported area crime and perceived area safety were related to self-rated general health and physical activity (PA), in order to provide support for a causal relationship between social safety and health. Additionally, we investigated whether social cohesion protects the residents against the negative impact of unsafe areas on health and PA. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were performed on Dutch survey data, including 47,926 respondents living in 2974 areas. An increase in area level unsafety feelings between 2009 and 2011 was associated with more people reporting poor general health in 2012 in that area, but was not related to PA. Changes in reported area crime were not related to either poor general health or PA. The social cohesion in the area did not modify the effect of changes in social safety on health and PA. The results suggest that tackling feelings of unsafety in an area might contribute to the better general health of the residents. Because changes in area social safety were not associated with PA, we found no leads that such health benefits were achieved through an increase in physical activity.