Neighborhood social cohesion and disorder in relation to walking in community-dwelling older adults: A multilevel analysis

Carlos F. Mendes De Leon, Kathleen A. Cagney, Julia L. Bienias, Lisa L. Barnes, Kimberly A. Skarupski, Paul A. Scherr, Denis A. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To examine the role of neighborhood social conditions and walking in community-dwelling older adults. Methods: A multi-level analysis of data from 4,317 older adults (mean age = 74.5; 73% black) from a geographically-defined urban community. Participants completed structured interviews including 14 questions on neighborhood conditions and self-reported walking. The neighborhood questions were summarized into individual-level measures of perceived neighborhood social cohesion and disorder. These measures were aggregated by neighborhood to construct neighborhood-level measures of social cohesion and disorder. Results: Neighborhood-level disorder, but not social cohesion, was significantly associated with walking, independent individual-level neighborhood perceptions and other correlates of walking. Further adjustment for race weakened this association to a marginally significant level. Discussion: Neighborhood conditions may shape walking behavior in older adults, especially conditions that reflect physical neglect or social threat. Promotion of walking behavior in older adults may require improvement of the safety and upkeep of the neighborhood environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-171
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Multilevel models
  • Neighborhood conditions
  • Physical activity
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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