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Advisory Committee Chair

Cynthia Petri

Advisory Committee Members

Stephen Glasser

Lonnie Hannon

Demarc Hickson

Virginia Howard

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in adults with a tremendous cost burden to the United States. Hypertension, a risk factor for CVD, affects approximately 65 million people in the United Sates and is a major cause of health disparities between African Americans and white Americans. Previous research suggests that environmental factors are likely to be important in shaping the distribution of cardiovascular risk factors including hypertension. However, this research has been limited to the analysis of census and administrative data. Utilizing the Jackson Heart Study, a longitudinal cohort study aimed at investigating the causes of CVD in African Americans, this study explores specific neighborhood characteristics including problems, violence and socioeconomic status and their association with hypertension prevalence and incidence. Neighborhood socioeconomic status was associated with hypertension prevalence; however, none of the neighborhood characteristics were associated with hypertension incidence. Although the findings are mixed, this study answers the call of investigating the relationship between specific neighborhood characteristics and health. In addition, by investigating neighborhood characteristics, it also informs the development of ecological interventions designed to target environmental problems that are more likely to place individuals at risk for hypertension.

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