Validation of a neighborhood sentiment and safety index derived from existing data repositories

Mariel Geron, Roni Factor, Whitney Cowell, Kevin Lane, Itai Kloog, Robert O. Wright, Rosalind J. Wright*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The communities we live in are central to our health. Neighborhood disadvantage is associated with worse physical and mental health and even early mortality, while resident sense of safety and positive neighborhood sentiment has been repeatedly linked to better physical and mental health outcomes. Therefore, understanding where negative neighborhood sentiment and safety are salient concerns can help inform public health interventions and as a result, improve health outcomes. To date, fear of crime and neighborhood sentiment data or indices have largely been based on the administration of time consuming and costly standardized surveys. Objective: The current study aims to develop a Neighborhood Sentiment and Safety Index (NSSI) at the census tract level, building on publicly available data repositories, including the US Census and ACS surveys, Data Axle, and ESRI repositories. Methods: The NSSI was created using Principal Component Analysis. Mineigen and minimum loading values were 1 and 0.3, respectively. Throughout the step-wise PCA process, variables were excluded if their loading value was below 0.3 or if variables loaded into multiple components. Results: The novel index was validated against standardized survey items from a longitudinal cohort study in the Northeastern United States characterizing experiences of (1) Neighborhood Characteristics with a Pearson correlation of −0.34 (p < 0.001) and, (2) Neighborhood Behavior Impact with a Pearson correlation of −0.33 (p < 0.001). It also accurately predicted the Share Care Community Well Being Index (Spearman correlation = 0.46) and the neighborhood deprivation index (NDI) (Spearman correlation = −0.75). Significance: Our NSSI can serve as a predictor of neighborhood experience where data is either unavailable or too resource consuming to practically implement in planned studies. Impact statement: To date, fear of crime and neighborhood sentiment data or indices have largely been based on the administration of time consuming and costly standardized surveys. The current study aims to develop a Neighborhood Sentiment and Safety Index (NSSI) at the census tract level, building on publicly available data repositories, including the US Census and ACS surveys, Data Axle, and ESRI repositories. The NSSI was validated against four separate measures and can serve as a predictor of neighborhood experience where data is either unavailable or too resource consuming to practically implement in planned studies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)207-217
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.

Keywords

  • Analytical methods
  • Geospatial analyses
  • Health studies
  • New approach methodologies (NAMs)

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