Violent Crime, Police Presence and Poor Sleep in Two Low-Income Urban Predominantly Black American Neighbourhoods
Published in: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, Volume 75, Issue 1, pages 62–68 (2021). doi: 10.1136/jech-2020-214500
Posted on RAND.org on March 11, 2021
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To examine violent crime in relation to sleep and explore pathways, including psychological distress, safety perceptions and perceived police presence, that may account for associations.
In 2018, 515 predominantly Black American (94%) adults (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA) provided survey data: actigraphy-assessed sleep duration and wakefulness after sleep onset (WASO). We estimated pathways from violent crime (2016–2018) to sleep through psychological distress, perceptions of safety and perceived adequacy of police presence.
WASO was most strongly associated with violent crimes that were within 1/10 mile of the participant's home and within the month preceding the interview. Violent crimes were associated with lower perceived safety (β=–0.13 (0.03), p<0.001) and greater WASO (β=5.96 (2.80), p=0.03). We observed no indirect associations between crime and either WASO or sleep duration through any of the tested mediators. Crime was not associated with sleep duration.
We demonstrated that more proximal and more recent violent crimes were associated with reduced perceived safety and worse WASO. Differential exposure to violent crime among Black Americans may contribute to health disparities by reducing residents' perceived safety and sleep health.