Method: Participants were 358 African American adolescents in Baltimore, MD who reported their perceptions of neighborhood cohesion in grade 10 and depressive symptoms in grade 11 as part of a longitudinal study following youth from elementary school through high school. Residential mobility was measured based on changes in yearly reported addresses between grades 6 to 10. We examined the effect of recent discrete moves (i.e., past year moves) as well as the aggregate of moves over grades 6-9 (i.e., middle school moves) as an indicator of chronic mobility.
Results: The SPSS PROCESS macro (Hayes, 2017) was used to test mediation. There was a significant positive indirect effect of the number of residential moves in middle school on depressive symptoms in grade 11 through grade 10 neighborhood cohesion (Effect=.0967, Bootstrap Confidence Interval BsCI [.0005, .2451]); specifically, more moves predicted lower neighborhood cohesion which in turn predicted more depressive symptoms. A similar pattern was observed for past year moves, but the indirect effect was not significant (Effect .2316, BsCI [-.0030, .5851]). Results highlight the significance of chronic mobility for adolescents’ depressive symptoms.
Conclusions: Results suggest that programs to support and bolster connections among neighbors may be an important component of preventive interventions focused on depression prevention for urban youth. In addition, programs and policies that enhance families’ ability to maintain residences (e.g., improved safety, economically viable housing) may result in reduced mobility and the accompanying adverse health effects.