This project aims to better understand the pathways behind the ethnic density effect on mental ill health.
The ‘ethnic density effect’ is a phenomenon which is observed when individuals from a minority ethnic group live in an area with a higher proportion of people from the same ethnic group. These individuals are often found to have better health than those living in areas with a smaller proportion of their own ethnic group. Individuals from minority ethnic groups in England often suffer from worse mental health. In a context of increasing diversity, both via migration and natural increase, coupled with discourses of ‘parallel lives’ and segregation, it is important to understand how the ethnic density effect operates and how clustering of these groups may be beneficial, rather than negative.
This project takes a theory-based approach in order to better understand some of the pathways thought to operate between ethnic density and mental health. The project commenced with a systematic review of UK based studies on ethnic density and mental health, including both qualitative and quantitative evidence. Specifically, the systematic review focused on the pathways tested, synthesising the findings of these pathways into causal diagrams. The synthesis of findings of the mechanisms which have been tested to date will then be used to guide the quantitative element of the project. Understanding Society (UKHLS) data will be analysed using Structural Equation Modelling to test a number of potential pathways operating between ethnic density and mental ill health by ethnic group.
To date, two public involvement sessions have been conducted, one at the very initial planning stage of the project and another during the narrative literature searching stage. The purpose of these sessions was to discuss initial ideas about what pathways might be important and in order to discuss the attendees’ thoughts on some of the broad pathways suggested by the literature. A third session is in planning, the aim of which will be to discuss the detailed pathway findings of the systematic review with a group with lived experience of being from a minority ethnic group living in areas of varying diversity.
The findings of this project will be communicated to the academic community via academic publications, conference presentations and via blog posts. In addition, the findings will also be shared with contacts within local government in community relations and public health and also with the public and patient involvement participants via presentations and written summaries.