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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

CUNY Faculty Studies the Power of Place

Dr. Karen Flórez, Professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and colleagues examined the social network characteristics, perceived neighborhood features, and psychological distress among African Americans in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The findings were published in the American Journal of Community Psychology.

[Photo: Dr. Karen Flórez]

African American neighborhoods have been historically targeted for urban renewal projects, which impact social composition and resident’s health, including the Hill District in Pittsburgh, PA. This research sought to investigate the extent to which social networks and perceived neighborhood social cohesion and safety were associated with psychological distress among residents in an African American neighborhood undergoing urban renewal, before the implementation of major neighborhood changes. Findings revealed a modest, significant inverse association between social network size and psychological distress, even after controlling for age, employment, education, and income. Perceived neighborhood safety predicted decreased psychological distress, but not social cohesion, which is consistent with past research. The research team concluded that the findings suggest that social networks protect against psychological distress, but neighborhood perceptions are also paramount.