The socio-spatial neighborhood estimation method: An approach to operationalizing the neighborhood concept

Malcolm P. Cutchin, Karl Eschbach, Christine A. Mair, Hyunsu Ju, James S. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

The literature on neighborhoods and health highlights the difficulty of operationalizing "neighborhood" in a conceptually and empirically valid manner. Most studies, however, continue to define neighborhoods using less theoretically relevant boundaries, risking erroneous inferences from poor measurement. We review an innovative methodology to address this problem, called the socio-spatial neighborhood estimation method (SNEM). To estimate neighborhood boundaries, researchers used a theoretically informed combination of qualitative GIS and on-the-ground observations in Texas City, Texas. Using data from a large sample, we assessed the SNEM-generated neighborhood units by comparing intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) and multi-level model parameter estimates of SNEM-based measures against those for census block groups and regular grid cells. ICCs and criterion-related validity evidence using SF-36 outcome measures indicate that the SNEM approach to operationalization could improve inferences based on neighborhoods and health research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1113-1121
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Place
Volume17
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • GIS
  • Measurement
  • Neighborhoods
  • Qualitative
  • Socio-spatial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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