Azara Blog: People who live in rural areas allegedly have better mental health

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Date published: 2006/01/04

The BBC says:

Living in the country is better for your mental health than being a city-dweller, scientists have said.

There have previously been mixed reports on whether the rural or urban living was more beneficial.

Some studies showed higher rates of depression and suicides in urban areas, while others raised concerns over the effects of rural isolation.

But this British Journal of Psychiatry study found people in the countryside do have slightly better mental health.

The team, from Warwick Medical School, Portsmouth University and Bristol University, used information from the British Household Panel Survey, which began in 1991.

Rates of both newly diagnosed and existing mental health problems were found to be lower in rural areas.

And those who did have a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, had a higher chance of remission if they lived in a less densely populated area.

The researchers looked at data for 7,659 adults in England, Wales and Scotland, taking into account factors such as age, marital status, employment, financial strain and physical health problems.

What is the point of this "research"? You would think that there was something better to spend money on than trawling through (not always reliable) surveys looking for correlations. The BBC headline to the story, "Countryside boosts mental health", makes the matter worse, by confusing correlation and causation.

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