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The mental health effects on adolescents of moving from a high- to low-poverty neighbourhood differ by gender and baseline health vulnerability

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Question: Are the mental health effects of moving from a high-poverty to a low-poverty neighbourhood modified by gender and baseline health vulnerabilities?

Patients: A total of 3557 adolescents aged 12–19 years (50% women, 63% black ethnicity, 30% Hispanic) from families volunteering to take part in the Moving to Opportunity Study. These families had children younger than 18 years and lived in public housing in high-poverty areas.

Setting: Public housing in Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York; 1994–1997.

Intervention: Moving from a high-poverty to low-poverty neighbourhood. The experimental group received vouchers for government-funded rental subsidies so they could move into private apartments. The control group remained in public housing.

Outcomes: Psychological distress (Kessler 6 Scale (K6)), and behavioural problems (Behavioral Problems Index (BPI)) in the past month. Gender and family health vulnerability (household member with disability; or a child with behavioural or learning problems, need for special medication or equipment or problems playing active games or attending school) were considered as covariates. Assessments took place at baseline …

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  • Sources of funding National Institutes of Health.


  • Competing interests None.

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