Social network factors and cardiovascular health among baltimore public housing residents

Benjamin P.L. Meza, Meena Chatrathi, Craig E. Pollack, David M. Levine, Carl A. Latkin, Jeanne M. Clark, Lisa A. Cooper, Christina T. Yuan, Nisa M. Maruthur, Kimberly A. Gudzune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social networks – or the web of relationships between individuals – may influence cardiovascular disease risk, particularly in low-income urban communities that suffer from a high prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Our objective was to describe the social networks of public housing residents – a low-income urban population – in Baltimore, MD and the association between these networks and blood pressure. We used cross-sectional survey data of randomly selected heads of household in two public housing complexes in Baltimore, MD (8/2014–8/2015). Respondents answered questions about 10 social network members, including attributes of their relationship and the frequency of interaction between members. We calculated measures of network composition (e.g., proportion of network members who were family members) and network structure (e.g., density), which we then dichotomized as “high” (upper quartile) and “low” (less than upper quartile). We used linear regression to test the association between network measures and mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The sample included 259 respondents (response rate: 46.6%). Mean age was 44.4 years, 85.7% were women, 95.4% Black, and 56.0% had a history of hypertension. A high proportion of older children (age 8–17 years) in the network (>30%) was associated with a 4.0% (95%CI [0.07, 8.07], p = 0.047) higher mean systolic blood pressure (~4.9 mmHg greater). Other network attributes had no association with blood pressure. Social network attributes, such as having a high proportion of older children in one's network, may have particular relevance to blood pressure among low-income public housing residents, reinforcing the potential importance of social relationships to cardiovascular health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101192
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • African American
  • Hypertension
  • Minority health
  • Poverty
  • Public housing
  • Social networking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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