Neighbourhood development and public health initiatives: who participates?

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Citizen participation in neighbourhood development is one way to promote public health and contribute to the well-being of individuals. However, some people participate while others do not. This study examines the individual characteristics of people who during the past 2 years have participated in a neighbourhood development process compared with potential and non-participants. Socio-demographic factors, perceptions and behaviour were analysed in a cross-sectional study. A questionnaire was answered by 1160 randomly chosen citizens over the age of 18 who lived in three Swedish cities. The most important single factor related to participation in neighbourhood development was prior experience of participation, such as attempting to influence city policies by contacting politicians, submitting a citizen proposal, etc. Furthermore, having frequent political discussions with neighbours was another behavioural factor that was found associated to people's participation in neighbourhood development. Among socio-demographic factors, only ethnicity was found significant after controlling for other factors; i.e. people born outside the Nordic countries were less likely to participate.

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