Common mental disorders and the built environment in Santiago, Chile

Ricardo Araya*, Alan Montgomery, Graciela Rojas, Rosemarie Fritsch, Jaime Solis, Andres Signorelli, Glyn Lewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Background: There is growing research interest in the influence of the built environment on mental disorders. Aims: To estimate the variation in the prevalence of common mental disorders attributable to individuals and the built environment of geographical sectors where they live. Method: A sample of 3870 adults (response rate 90%) clustered in 248 geographical sectors participated in a household cross-sectional survey in Santiago, Chile. Independently rated contextual measures of the built environment were obtained. The Clinical Interview Schedule was used to estimate the prevalence of common mental disorders. Results: There was a significant association between the quality of the built environment of small geographical sectors and the presence of common mental disorders among its residents. The better the quality of the built environment, the lower the scores for psychiatric symptoms; however, only a small proportion of the variation in common mental disorder existed at sector level, after adjusting for individual factors. Conclusions: Findings from our study, using a contextual assessment of the quality of the built environment and multilevel modelling in the analysis, suggest these associations may be more marked in non-Western settings with more homogeneous geographical sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-401
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chile
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Questionnaires
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health


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