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1. Citation: De Silva, M. J., McKenzie, K., Harpham, T., & Huttly, S. R. A. (2005). Social capital and mental illness: A systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 59(8), 619-627.
Keywords: social capital, mental illness, health policies, national organizations, international organizations, government policy making, mental health, organizations
Abstract: Background: Social capital is considered an important predictor of mental health outcomes. Many federal health agencies promote social capital interventions to improve mental health. However, there has not been a systematic review of research to establish the evidence base of social capital on mental health.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to review quantitative studies examining the relationship between social capital and mental illness.

Search strategy: The authors searched 20 databases for research studies on social capital and mental illness. Databases included PubMed, Embase, PsychInfo, IBSS, SSCI, TRIP database, Popline, CAB abstracts, HMIC, SERFile, SIGLE4, Lilacs, C2-SPECTR, Cochrane Library, Zetoc, National Research Register, ID21, Eldis, World Bank Social Capital document library, and Inter-American initiative on social capital, ethics, and development – document library. Unpublished research was also included in the search. No restrictions were placed on geographic location, language of publication, or date. The search was conducted up to May 2003.

Selection criteria: Empirical studies with a validated mental illness outcome measure and predictor variables that measured social capital were included. Studies were excluded that measured mental health, as compared to mental illness. Studies were also excluded that focused on the consequences of social capital, as compared to measures of social capital.

Data collection and analysis: Titles and abstracts were identified and assessed for relevance by the first author. The authors independently conducted a blind review of every article. Data were extracted and categorized. Methodological quality was assessed using a validity checklist.

Main results: The results of 21 studies met the inclusion criteria for review. The authors report findings for research on social capital at the individual level (n = 14) (i.e., individual, cognitive and structural) and research on social capital at the ecological level (n = 7). The review results indicate strong evidence of an inverse relationship between individual level social capital and common mental disorders but few other consistent associations. The authors found less evidence for an inverse relationship between ecological social capital and child mental illness. The authors report several limitations to the study. In particular, the ecological social capital studies were difficult to aggregate because of the diverse methodology, populations investigated, and mental illness outcome measures.

Conclusions: The authors suggest there are at least two types of social capital (individual and ecological), which may be measured differently. The overall results of the systematic review suggest the evidence base is insufficient to inform the development or implementation of specific social capital interventions to address mental illness.
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Record Updated:2017-01-27

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