Exploring the role of built environments and depressive symptoms in community-dwelling older adults: A case of Taiwan

Nuan Ching Huang, Shiann Far Kung, Susan C. Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Depression in older adults is a growing public health concern. However, limited research has focused on the issues of physical environments and depression in the elderly in Asia. The purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between the built environments and depressive symptoms in older adults using Taiwan as an example. Methods: Two national datasets were used in this study, including the 2009 National Health Interview Survey and the 2006 National Land Use Investigation in Taiwan. A total of 2,155 older adults were recruited, and eight built environments were examined among 161 townships. Depressive symptoms were measured using a 10-item CES-D scale, and four sophisticated models were built using a multi-level analysis. Results: Five types of built environments were found to be significantly associated with depressive symptoms in older adults. Among them, two types of built environments, ‘health and medical services’ and ‘schools’ were highly related to a lower CES-D score and lower odds of being depressed, whereas the other three built environments, ‘cultural and historical facilities,’ ‘recreational and amusement areas,’ and ‘playgrounds and sports venues’ were significantly associated with an increasing risk of being depressed. Conclusions: Different built environments had different effects on depression and some even showed a dose-response relationship. These results can help urban planners or city designers reconsider how to facilitate the construction of built environments in neighborhoods that will improve the mental health of older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1059
Number of pages11
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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