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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


BARTOLL-ROCA, Xavier et al. Neighbourhood income inequalities in mental health in Barcelona 2001-2016: a Bayesian smoothed estimate. Gac Sanit [online]. 2022, vol.36, n.6, pp.534-539.  Epub Mar 13, 2023. ISSN 0213-9111.


Obtaining reliable health estimates at the small area level (such as neighbourhoods) using survey data usually poses the problem of small sample sizes. To overcome this limitation, we explored smoothing techniques in order to estimate poor mental health prevalence at the neighbourhood level and analyse its profile by income in Barcelona city (Spain).


A Bayesian smoothing model with a logit-normal transformation was applied to four repeated cross-sectional waves of the Barcelona health survey for 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. Mental health status was identified from the 12-item General Health Questionnaire. Income inequalities were analysed with neighbourhood income in quantiles for each year and trends in the pooled analysis.


The prevalence of poor mental health ranged from 14.6% in 2001 to 18.9% in 2016. The yearly difference between neighbourhoods was 12.4% in 2001, 16.7% in 2006, 14.2% in 2011, and 20.0% in 2016. The odds ratio and 95% credible interval (95%CI) of experiencing poor mental health was 1.40 times higher (95%CI: 1.02-1.91) in less advantaged neighbourhoods than in more advantaged neighbourhoods in 2001, 1.61 times higher (95%CI: 1.01-2.59) in 2006 and 2.31 times higher (95%CI: 1.57-3.40) in 2016.


This study shows that the Bayesian smoothed techniques allows detection of inequalities in health in neighbourhoods and monitoring of interventions against them. In Barcelona, mental health problems are more prevalent in low-income neighbourhoods and raised in 2016.

Keywords : Mental health; Small-area analysis.

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