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The individual, place, and wellbeing – a network analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 20.09.2021, 15:24 by Eoin McElroy, Mathew Ashton, Anne Marie Bagnall, Terence Comerford, Mick McKeown, Praveetha Patalay, Andy Pennington, Jane South, Tim Wilson, Rhiannon Corcoran
Background
Previous research has examined individual-level and place characteristics as correlates of subjective wellbeing, with many studies concluding that individual factors (e.g. health, finances) are more strongly related to wellbeing. However, this ‘dualistic’ approach has been challenged, with some arguing that it is impossible to disentangle the effects of the two domains, and that wellbeing should be considered as part of a network of mutually reinforcing relationships between individual, community and place characteristics. We used network analysis to explore these complex associations.

Methods
Data were from a large sample of adults from a socioeconomically disadvantaged region of the United Kingdom (N = 4319). Wellbeing was assessed using the 7-item version of the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS). Mixed graphical networks were estimated including wellbeing, place and individual-characteristic variables as nodes.

Results
We found a densely connected network in which wellbeing was associated, both directly and indirectly, with all of the individual, community and place characteristics assessed. Wellbeing was most strongly connected with individual characteristics, in particular financial difficulty and subjective physical health. However, controlling for all other variables in the network model, wellbeing was positively associated with local greenspace usage, civic agency, and neighbourhood cohesion, and negatively associated with housing disrepair. Greater specificity in these associations was observed when the wellbeing construct was broken down into its constituent parts.

Conclusions
These findings highlight the complex relationships that exist between individual, community and place characteristics in the context of subjective wellbeing, and that all domains need to be considered when developing population-level strategies to improve wellbeing. Further consideration needs to be given to how this might happen in practice, for example through a combination of consistent use of community engagement methodologies alongside Health in All Policy (HiAP) approaches.

Funding

National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast (NIHR ARC NWC)

History

Citation

BMC Public Health 21, 1621 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11553-7

Author affiliation

Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour, College of Life Sciences

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

BMC Public Health

Volume

21

Issue

1

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

eissn

1471-2458

Acceptance date

26/07/2021

Copyright date

2021

Available date

20/09/2021

Language

en

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