Community Characteristics are Associated with Blood Pressure Levels in a Racially Integrated Community

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Community problems have been associated with higher, and community resources and social cohesion with lower, blood pressure. However, prior studies have not accounted for potential confounding by residential racial segregation. This study tested associations between community characteristics and blood pressure levels and prevalent hypertension in a racially integrated community. The Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities Study measured blood pressure in residents of two contiguous racially integrated and low-income US Census Tracts. Community characteristics included a standardized community problem score and binary indicators for community social cohesion, having a community leader available, and having at least one community resource observed on the participant’s block. In adjusted models, greater community problems and proximity to resources were associated with lower systolic (β = −2.020, p = 0.028; β = −4.132, p = 0.010) and diastolic (β = −1.261, p = 0.038; β = −2.290, 0.031) blood pressure, respectively, among whites (n = 548). Social cohesion was associated with higher systolic (β = 4.905, p = 0.009) and diastolic blood pressure (β = 3.379, p = 0.008) among African Americans (n = 777). In one racially integrated low-income community, community characteristics were associated with blood pressure levels, and associations differed by race. Directions of associations for two findings differed from prior studies; greater community problem was associated with lower blood pressure in whites and community social cohesion was associated with higher blood pressure in African Americans. These findings may be due to exposure to adverse environmental conditions and hypertensive risk factors in this low-income community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-414
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 5 2015


  • Health disparities
  • Hypertension
  • Neighborhood problems
  • Neighborhood social cohesion
  • Residential segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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