Stress and Distress during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Neighborhood Context

Image of a bicycle on a road.

The purpose of this study was to examine changes in psychological distress among 244 residents of New Orleans, Louisiana following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the potential buffering or exacerbating role of neighborhood conditions on such changes.

Findings indicate that residents, particularly Black New Orleanians, are not only disproportionately impacted by the pandemic but are also exposed to neighborhood characteristics that can further compound distress. Place always matters, especially in a time of crisis like the COVID pandemic. In neighborhoods the presence or absence of physical features such as green spaces and alcohol serving outlets as well as residents’ perception of social qualities like collective trust and cohesion, all contribute to one’s psychological well-being. Interventions that target neighborhood environments and social factors that can mitigate psychological distress and inform local initiatives are of great importance, even more so in times of crisis.

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