Impact of a Dutch urban regeneration programme on mental health trends: a quasi-experimental study

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Abstract

Background

This paper aims to assess the mental health impact of an urban regeneration programme implemented from 2008 onwards in the 40 most deprived districts in the Netherlands. Interventions varied from improvements in the built environment to activities promoting social cohesion.

Methods

We accessed repeated cross-sectional data from the annual Health Interview Survey, for the period 2004–2011 among adults (n target districts=1445, n rest of the Netherlands=44 795). We used multilevel logistic regression models to compare the development of mental health in the target districts with the rest of the Netherlands and with comparably deprived districts. Results were presented as ‘slope estimates’ with corresponding 95% CIs. Finally, we analysed the trends by gender and by the intensity of the programme.

Results

The trend change in mental health between the intervention and preintervention period was approximately the same in the target districts as in broadly comparably deprived control districts (Δ slope 0.06 (−0.08 to 0.20)). However, among women, a tendency was found towards more positive trend changes in the target districts compared with control districts (Δ slope 0.17 (−0.01 to 0.34)). Those districts that implemented an intensive programme experienced an improvement in mental health, while residents of the comparably deprived control districts experienced a deterioration, resulting in a statistically significantly more positive trend change between the preintervention and intervention period in those target districts (Δ slope 0.19 (0.01 to 0.38)).

Conclusions

Implementing an urban regeneration programme with a wide range of intensive interventions may be effective in promoting good mental health. Further research is required to examine which mix of interventions is needed for the programme to be effective.

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