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Study: Community belonging and self-reported health

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The Daily

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

People with a strong sense of community belonging are more likely to report being in good physical and mental health, according to a new study.

The study, "Community belonging and self-perceived health," published today in Health Reports, used data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey to examine the relationship between a sense of community belonging and self-reported health. The findings build on evidence that a person's social relationships have a bearing on their health.

Close to two-thirds of those who felt a very strong or somewhat strong sense of community belonging reported excellent or very good general health. By contrast, just 51% of those with a very weak sense of belonging viewed their general health favourably.

Similarly, 81% of those with a very strong sense of community reported excellent or very good mental health, compared with 64% of those whose sense of community belonging was very weak.

In 2005, 64% of Canadians reported a strong sense of community belonging; this included 17% who described their sense of belonging as very strong, and 47% who reported it as "somewhat strong." Just over a quarter (26%) reported a "somewhat weak" sense of community belonging, and 10%, "very weak."

Residents of the Atlantic provinces showed the highest levels of community belonging, with people from Newfoundland and Labrador having the highest rate among all provinces at 79%. Between 2000/2001 and 2005, significant increases in community belonging occurred in all provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador. The sharpest upturn was in New Brunswick, where the rate rose from 62% to 73%.

Community belonging was related to home language. Among people who spoke mostly English at home, 68% reported a strong sense of community belonging, compared with 55% of those whose home language was French. For those who spoke some other language at home, 60% reported a strong sense of belonging.

While the proportions of men and women who reported a strong sense of community belonging did not differ, rates did vary by age group. More than three-quarters (77%) of youth aged 12 to 17 reported a strong sense of belonging, but among young adults aged 18 to 29, the figure was 55%. The rate increased steadily from 62% of those aged 30 to 44 to 72% among seniors (65 or older).

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3226.

The article, "Community belonging and self-perceived health," which is part of today's Health Reports, Vol. 19, no. 2 (82-003-XWE, free) online release, is now available from the Publications module of our website.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Margot Shields (613-951-4177;, Health Information and Research Division.

For more information about Health Reports, contact Christine Wright (613-951-1765;, Health Information and Research Division.