Online Program

Rural-Urban Differences in Community Participation, Sense of Community and Perceptions of the Built Environment among Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Greg Townley, PhD, Community Psychology, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Eugene Brusilovskiy, MUSA, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, PHILADELPHIA, PA
Mark Salzer, PhD, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Introduction: There is a lack of research on urban-rural differences in community participation – which multiple studies have found to be predictive of positive health outcomes – and perceptions of the social and built environment, among individuals with psychiatric disabilities (PD). Methods: 209 individuals with PD receiving services at ten community mental health centers throughout the USA have completed questionnaires on their community participation, sense of community and perceptions of the built environment. Of the 209 individuals, 155 were living in urban counties (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Urban Continuum Code (RUCC) equal to 1 or 2) and the remaining 54 were living in suburban or rural counties (RUCC = 3 or higher). Independent samples t-tests were conducted to examine whether individuals living in urban counties had higher community participation, sense of community and perceptions of the built environment than their suburban and rural counterparts. Results: Even though data collection is ongoing until May 2015, preliminary results have shown that individuals in urban locations reported significantly higher sense of community and greater perceptions of the physical quality of their environments (e.g., presence of sidewalks and ease of transportation access) compared to participants in rural locations.  However, participants in urban locations did not report significantly higher levels of community participation behaviors compared to individuals in rural locations, suggesting that urban dwellers' positive attitudes about their environments did not necessarily increase their utilization of those environments. Implications: The findings suggest the need to consider other individual- and environment-level factors that may explain the lack of differences in participation between urban and rural environments, including psychiatric symptom distress and perceptions of safety. Post hoc analyses will attempt to identify and discuss some of these factors.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare individuals with psychiatric disabilities living in urban and rural/suburban communities in terms of community participation, sense of community and built environment.

Keyword(s): Rural Health, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been PI on several federally funded grants focusing on factors associated with community participation of individuals with psychiatric disabilities. I have authored multiple papers and numerous presentations on related topics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.