Covid-19 restrictions: An opportunity to highlight the effect of neighbourhood deprivation on individuals’ health-related behaviours

Laura Silva, Franco Bonomi Bezzo, Maarten van Ham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Rationale: Neighbourhood socio-economic deprivation is strongly related to health-risk behaviours, which are predictors of overall health and mortality. During the Covid-19 pandemic, individuals have been forced to spend more time within their residential areas, which might have had an effect on health-risk behaviours. Objective: We assess the consequences of living in a more or less deprived neighbourhood during the pandemic on individual behavioural changes in four health-related outcomes: smoking, drinking, physical activity and healthy eating. We hypothesise that the pandemic and related lock-downs had negative effects on health-related behaviours, but that this negative effect had been stronger for people living in more deprived areas. We additionally explore sex and ethnicity as sources of heterogeneity in these effects. Methods: We use data from four nationally representative cohort studies in England. We perform longitudinal individual and neighbourhood fixed effects estimations focusing on comparing the pre-pandemic period with the first lockdown (May 2020) period and up to one year after the outbreak of the pandemic (March 2021). Results: During the first lockdown, as compared to pre-pandemic levels, on average, people smoked more, drunk more and did more physical activity. However, compared to people in less deprived neighbourhoods, people living in more deprived areas showed a smaller increase in their levels of physical activity, consumed less fruit and vegetables and increased the number of cigarettes smoked. We additionally find that the combined effect of Covid-19 and area deprivation varies significantly by both sex and ethnicity. Conclusion: Results add to evidence on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns on health-risk behaviours, highlighting the relative contribution of the neighbourhood environment and individual characteristics. We argue that reducing levels of neighbourhood deprivation may contribute to positively influence behaviours, especially for some sub-groups of the population, leading to a reduction of social inequalities in health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115917
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume325
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Corrigendum with DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116052 Maarten van Ham is corresponding author instead of Laura Silva

Keywords

  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Health-related behaviours
  • Inequality
  • Neighbourhood

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