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Micro-scale environment and mental health in later life: Results from the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study II (CFAS II)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Yu-Tzu WuORCiD, Professor Matthew Prina, Professor Fiona MatthewsORCiD, Professor Carol Brayne



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 The Authors Background Poor micro-scale environmental features, such as graffiti and broken windows, have been associated with crime and signs of social disorder with a potential impact on mental health. The aim of this study is to investigate the association between micro-scale environment and mental health problems in later life, including cognitive (cognitive impairment and dementia) and common mental disorders (depressive and anxiety symptoms). Methods The method of visual image audits was used to collect micro-scale environmental data for 3590 participants in the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study II, a population-based multicentre cohort of people aged 65 or above in England. Multilevel logistic regression was used to examine the associations between the quality of micro-scale environment and mental health problems taking into account urban/rural difference. Results Poor quality of micro-scale environment was associated with nearly 20% increased odds of depressive (OR: 1.19; 95% CI: 0.99, 1.44) and anxiety symptoms (OR: 1.17; 95% CI: 0.99, 1.38) while the direction of association for cognitive disorders differed across urban and rural settings. Although higher odds of cognitive disorders were found in rural settings, living in a poor quality environment was associated with nearly twice higher odds of cognitive impairment (OR: 1.88; 95% CI: 1.18, 2.97) in urban conurbations but 20% lower odds in rural areas (OR: 0.80; 95% CI: 0.57, 1.11). Limitations The causal direction could not be fully determined due to the cross-sectional nature of the data. The visual nature of the environmental assessment tool means it likely does not fully capture features related to the availability of local support services, or opportunities for social participation and interaction. Conclusions The quality of micro-scale environment appears to be important to mental health in older people. Interventions may incorporate the environmental aspect to reduce cognitive and common mental disorders.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wu Y-T, Prina AM, Jones A, Barnes LE, Matthews FE, Brayne C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders

Year: 2017

Volume: 218

Pages: 359-364

Print publication date: 15/08/2017

Online publication date: 05/05/2017

Acceptance date: 04/05/2017

Date deposited: 30/05/2017

ISSN (print): 0165-0327

ISSN (electronic): 1573-2517

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.05.001


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