Moving from high-poverty to low-poverty neighborhoods appears beneficial for some adolescent girls

October 8, 2012

Although some girls benefited from a program that moved families from high-poverty areas to low-poverty areas, boys and adolescents from families with preexisting health-related vulnerabilities did not appear to experience mental health benefits, according to a report published Online First by Archives of General Psychiatry, a JAMA Network publication.

"Extensive observational evidence indicates that youth in high- exhibit , although not all children may be affected similarly," according to background information in the article. "Racial/ethnic minority families are disproportionately more likely to live in impoverished neighborhoods, and many research studies suggest that adolescents who reside in high-poverty communities experience elevated ."

Theresa L. Osypuk, Sc.D., Sc.M., of Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, and colleagues conducted a using volunteer low-income families in public housing in five U.S. cities (Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York) between 1994 and 1997. The authors analyzed 4- to 7-year outcomes in 2,829 youth ages 12 to 19 years. Families were randomized to remain in public housing (control group) or to receive government-funded rental subsidies to move into private apartments (experimental group).

The authors found that girls without health vulnerabilities at the start of the study were the only subgroup to benefit on any outcomes. Neither girls with health vulnerabilities nor boys without experienced intervention benefits. Researchers measured outcomes using a screening scale for mental illness and surveys for behavioral problems and .

Health vulnerabilities included if any household member had a disability, or a household in which a child had any of four health or development problems including behavior, learning, difficulty in getting to school or playing active games, or problems that required special medicine or equipment.

"In conclusion, this housing policy experiment benefited the mental health of some adolescents, particularly girls in families without health vulnerabilities, but had either nonsignificant or harmful effects on the mental health of adolescents from families with preexisting health-related vulnerabilities, particularly boys," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Moving poor women to lower-poverty neighborhoods improves their health

More information: Arch Gen Psychiatry. Published online October 8, 2012. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.449

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Repeating aloud to another person boosts recall

October 6, 2015

Repeating aloud boosts verbal memory, especially when you do it while addressing another person, says Professor Victor Boucher of the University of Montreal's Department of Linguistics and Translation. His findings are the ...

Men more likely to be seen as 'creative thinkers'

September 28, 2015

People tend to associate the ability to think creatively with stereotypical masculine qualities, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.