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Published Online: 11 August 2009

Neighborhood Characteristics, Adherence to Walking, and Depressive Symptoms in Midlife African American Women

Publication: Journal of Women's Health
Volume 18, Issue Number 8

Abstract

Background: African American women have more symptoms of depressed mood than white women. Adverse neighborhood conditions may contribute to these symptoms. Although reductions in depressive symptoms with physical activity have been demonstrated in white adults, little research has examined the mental health benefits of physical activity in African American women. Further, it is unknown whether physical activity can offset the effects of living in disadvantaged neighborhoods on depressive symptoms. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among neighborhood characteristics, adherence to a physical activity intervention, and change over time in depressive symptoms in midlife African American women.
Methods: Two hundred seventy-eight women participated in a home-based, 24-week moderate-intensity walking intervention. Either a minimal treatment (MT) or enhanced treatment (ET) version of the intervention was randomly assigned to one of the two community health centers. Walking adherence was measured as the percentage of prescribed walks completed. Objective and perceived measures of neighborhood deterioration and crime were included.
Results: Adjusting for demographics, body mass index (BMI), and depressive symptoms at baseline, walking adherence and objective neighborhood deterioration were associated with significantly lower depressive symptoms, whereas perceived neighborhood deterioration was associated with significantly higher depressive symptoms at 24 weeks.
Conclusions: Adherence to walking as well as aspects of the environment may influence depressive symptoms in African American women. In addition to supporting active lifestyles, improving neighborhood conditions may also promote mental health among African American women.

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cover image Journal of Women's Health
Journal of Women's Health
Volume 18Issue Number 8August 2009
Pages: 1201 - 1210
PubMed: 19630546

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Published online: 11 August 2009
Published in print: August 2009
Published ahead of print: 24 July 2009

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JoEllen Wilbur
College of Nursing, Rush University, Chicago, Illinois.
Shannon Zenk
College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Edward Wang
College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
April Oh
Health Promotion Research Branch, Behavioral Research Program, DCCPS National Cancer Institute, Washington, DC.
Judith McDevitt
College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Dick Block
Department of Sociology, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois.
Sue McNeil
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware.
SuKyung Ju
College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Notes

Address correspondence to:
JoEllen Wilbur, Ph.D.
Rush University College of Nursing
600 S. Paulina
Chicago, IL 60612
E-mail: [email protected]

Disclosure Statement

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

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