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The link between cognitive health and neighbourhood: perceptions of the public, and of policy-makers, about problems and solutions

Stevens, Madeleine ORCID: 0000-0003-3540-3494, Matosevic, Tihana, Suarez-Pinilla, Marta, Pais, Sarah, Rossor, Martin and Knapp, Martin ORCID: 0000-0003-1427-0215 (2023) The link between cognitive health and neighbourhood: perceptions of the public, and of policy-makers, about problems and solutions. BMC Public Health, 23 (1). ISSN 1471-2458

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Identification Number: 10.1186/s12889-023-16592-w


Background Growing evidence indicates associations between neighbourhood-related factors such as pollution, social isolation and physical inactivity, and cognition, that is, our ability to think clearly, learn and remember. The evidence raises the possibility of neighbourhood intervention playing a role in protecting population cognitive health. However, there is little understanding of these associations among the public and policy-makers, what they mean and how they might be acted on. In this study we explored perceptions of the public and policy-makers about influences of neighbourhood factors on brain functioning, and how they should inform policy. Methods Qualitative methods were used in three phases; the study ran in parallel with a quantitative study looking at neighbourhood influences on cognition. In phase one, focus groups were conducted with middle-aged (40–69) members of the public to inform statistical modelling. In phase two, similar focus groups were held in four case study areas chosen based on the modelling results. In phase three, interviews with people in public health and policy roles were conducted, including people in the case study sites. Results Participants described effects on their cognition from community, culture and social interactions, access to green spaces and nature, upkeep and safety of the area, and pollution, traffic and noise. Solutions included better local consultation and involvement in policy and planning, support for community interactions and active and public transport, and education on cognition. There was little awareness, but much interest, from local policy-makers and implementers, about links between cognition and place. Barriers to implementation included lack of: effective engagement with local communities, local funding and joined-up health and neighbourhood policy. Conclusions People can perceive impacts of neighbourhoods on brain functioning and suggest ways local areas can be improved to support cognitive health. There is support for the idea of population-level interventions to support cognitive health

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Social Policy
Personal Social Services Research Unit
Health Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2023 11:03
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2024 18:12

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