The impact of neighborhood cohesion on older individuals' self-rated health status

Neale R. Chumbler, Tamara Leech

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this chapter is to advance the medical sociology literature on the relationship between social cohesion and SRHS on an individual level. There is little information about how neighborhood social characteristics affect seniors' SRHS. Guided by tenets of the collective efficacy theory, this chapter hypothesized that older individuals who perceived that their neighborhood has high levels of social cohesion around elderly issues will have better SRHS. A secondary hypothesis investigates whether the relationship was attenuated once their neighbors' actual, self-reported attitudes toward seniors were taken into account. Methodology - Data come from a telephone survey of Indianapolis, Indiana residents, court data, and census information. Findings - Logistic regression analyses indicated that both social cohesion and low income are statistically significant predictors of poor self-rated health status. Although both are statistically significant, the protective association between cohesion and poor SRHS (-0.69 log odds) is of similar magnitude to the risky association between income and poor health (-0.64 log odds). Research implications - Consistent with the classic work of Durkheim who found that individuals who were more socially integrated with society had lower rates of suicide, our study found a significant association between social cohesion and SRHS. Value of paper - Future research is needed to target other health status outcomes in other geographical locations. Even though the body of research exploring the predictors of SRHS among older individuals is quite robust, this chapter adds to a more recent growing body of research, which has articulated the importance of the social environment in which an individual lives, especially community-dwelling older adults, is associated with their health status.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Determinants, Health Disparities and Linkages to Health and Health Care
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781781905876
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Health Care
ISSN (Print)0275-4959


  • Health status
  • Older adults
  • Social cohesion


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