Exposure to urban rats as a community stressor among low-income urban residents

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We examined exposure and perceptions of rats and perceived rat eradication response among 448 low-income urban residents in Baltimore, Maryland, recruited using targeted outreach. Bivariate and multivariate regression compared those reporting high and low rat prevalence. Only 35% of respondents indicated rats were not a problem on their block. Rats were most problematic when seen approximately daily on one's block (35%) or elsewhere in the neighborhood (50%). Increased neighborhood disorder and depressive symptoms were independently associated with higher rat prevalence. Perceived neighbor and city response was associated with lower rat prevalence and stronger individual eradication. Attention is needed to appreciate and address psychosocial effect and environmental justice aspects of rat infestation in urban areas. Daily block sightings may be a useful threshold for evaluating problem rat areas based on resident perceptions and assessment indicator for rat eradication. Multilevel community-based rat eradication approaches may help reduce rat prevalence and community stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-262
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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