The effect of social isolation on depressive symptoms varies by neighborhood characteristics: A study of an urban sample of women with pre-school aged children

Julie Knoll Rajaratnam, Patricia O'Campo, Margaret O Brien Caughy, Carles Muntaner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To examine how individual characteristics, social isolation, and neighborhood context affect depressive symptoms in a socio-economically diverse population of women with young children. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 261 mothers from 68 neighborhoods in Baltimore between 1998 and 2000. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale (CES-D). Neighborhood context was characterized using police and Census data. Multilevel regression was performed. Results: Socially isolated women reported on average 73% (95% CI, 48 and 92%) more depressive symptoms than women who were not socially isolated; however, the association of social isolation and depressive symptoms varied by level of crime in the neighborhood. Social isolation was associated with an average increase in depressive symptoms of 128% (95% CI, 115 and 138%) for women in low-crime neighborhoods but with no change for those in high-crime neighborhoods. The interaction remained significant after controlling for individual- and neighborhood-level socio-demographic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-475
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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