J Epidemiol Community Health 68:811-817 doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203434
  • Inequalities in health

The effects of an urban renewal project on health and health inequalities: a quasi-experimental study in Barcelona

  1. Carme Borrell1,2,3
  1. 1Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Biomedical Research Institute Sant Pau (IIB Sant Pau), Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3Ciber de Epidemiología y Salud Publica (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada
  5. 5Department of Health Care Management, Korea University, Seoul, South Korea
  1. Correspondence to Roshanak Mehdipanah, Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona. Plaza Lesseps, 1, Barcelona 08023, Spain;{at}
  • Received 25 September 2013
  • Revised 27 March 2014
  • Accepted 5 April 2014
  • Published Online First 6 May 2014


Background In the last decade, the Neighbourhoods Law in Catalonia (Spain) funded municipalities that presented urban renewal projects within disadvantaged neighbourhoods focusing on physical, social and economic improvements. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of this law on the health and health inequalities of residents in the intervened neighbourhoods in the city of Barcelona.

Methods A quasi-experimental predesign and postdesign was used to compare adult residents in five intervened neighbourhoods with eight non-intervened comparison neighbourhoods with similar socioeconomic characteristics. The Barcelona Health Survey was used for studying self-rated and mental health in pre (2001, 2006) and post (2011) years. Poisson regression models stratified by sex were used to compute prevalence ratios comparing 2011 with 2006, and later stratified by social class, to study health inequalities.

Results The intervened neighbourhoods had a significant decrease in poor self-rated health in both sexes while no significant changes occurred in the comparison group. When stratified by social class, a significant improvement was observed in poor self-rated health in the manual group of the intervened neighbourhoods in both sexes, resulting in a decrease in self-rated health inequalities. Similar results were observed in poor mental health of women, while in men, poor mental health worsens in both neighbourhood groups but mostly in the comparison group.

Conclusions The Neighbourhoods Law had a positive effect on self-rated health and seems to prevent poor mental health increases in both sexes and especially among manual social classes.