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Schoenweger, Petra; Kirschneck, Michaela; Biersack, Katharina; Di Meo, Anna-Francesca; Reindl-Spanner, Philipp; Prommegger, Barbara; Ditzen-Janotta, Claudia; Henningsen, Peter; Krcmar, Helmut; Gensichen, Jochen; Jung-Sievers, Caroline (2023): Community indicators for mental health in Europe: a scoping review. Frontiers in Public Health, 11: 1188494. ISSN 2296-2565

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Community indicators may predict and influence individuals` mental health, and support or impede mental health management. However, there is no consensus on which indicators should be included in predictions, prognostic algorithms, or management strategies for community-based mental health promotion and prevention approaches. Therefore, this scoping review provides an overview of relevant community-level indicators for mental health in the general as well as risk populations in a European context.

We conducted a scoping review in the following electronic databases: PubMed, Embase, and PsycInfo. Eligible studies focused on context factors such as either the physical or social environment, reporting at least one mental health outcome and referring to a European population. Publications between 2012 and March 8, 2022 are considered.

In total, the search yielded 12,200 identified records. After the removal of duplicates, 10,059 records were screened against the eligibility criteria. In total, 169 studies were included in the final analysis. Out of these included studies, 6% focused on pan-European datasets and 94% on a specific European country. Populations were either general or high-risk populations (56 vs. 44%, respectively) with depressive disorder as the main reported outcome (49%), followed by general mental health (33%) and anxiety (23%). Study designs were cross-sectional studies (59%), longitudinal (27%), and others (14%). The final set of indicators consisted of 53 indicators, which were grouped conceptually into 13 superordinate categories of community indicators. These were divided into the domains of the physical and social environment. The most commonly measured and reported categories of community indicators associated with mental health outcomes were social networks ( n = 87), attitudinal factors toward vulnerable groups ( n = 76), and the characteristics of the built environment ( n = 56).

This review provides an evidence base of existing and novel community-level indicators that are associated with mental health. Community factors related to the physical and social environment should be routinely recorded and considered as influencing factors or potentially underestimated confounders. The relevance should be analyzed and included in clinical outcomes, data, monitoring and surveillance as they may reveal new trends and targets for public mental health interventions.

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