Community Change and Resident Needs: Designing a Participatory Action Research Study in Metropolitan Boston

The health implications of urban development, particularly in rapidly changing, low-income urban neighborhoods, are poorly understood. We describe the Healthy Neighborhoods Study (HNS), a Participatory Action Research study examining the relationship between neighborhood change and population health in nine Massachusetts neighborhoods. Baseline data from the HNS survey show that social factors, specifically income insecurity, food insecurity, social support, experiencing discrimination, expecting to move, connectedness to the neighborhood, and local housing construction that participants believed would improve their lives, identified by a network of 45 Resident Researchers exhibited robust associations with self-rated and mental health. Resident-derived insights into relationships between neighborhoods and health may provide a powerful mechanism for residents to drive change in their communities