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Violent crime, police presence and poor sleep in two low-income urban predominantly Black American neighbourhoods
  1. Andrea S Richardson1,
  2. Wendy M Troxel1,
  3. Madhumita Ghosh-Dastidar1,
  4. Gerald P Hunter1,
  5. Robin Beckman2,
  6. Rebecca Collins2,
  7. Stephanie Brooks Holliday3,
  8. Alvin Nugroho3,
  9. Lauren Hale4,
  10. Daniel J Buysse5,
  11. Matthew P Buman6,
  12. Tamara Dubowitz1
  1. 1 Social and Economic Well-Being, RAND Corp, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2 Department of Behavioral and Policy Sciences, RAND Corp, Santa Monica, California, USA
  3. 3 Behavioral and Policy Sciences, RAND Corp, Santa Monica, California, USA
  4. 4 Program in Public Health, Stony Brook University Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook, New York, USA
  5. 5 University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  6. 6 College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
  1. Correspondence to Andrea Richardson, Social and Economic Well-Being, Rand Corp Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA;arichard{at}


Objective To examine violent crime in relation to sleep and explore pathways, including psychological distress, safety perceptions and perceived police presence, that may account for associations.

Methods In 2018, 515 predominantly Black American (94%) adults (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA) provided survey data: actigraphy-assessed sleep duration and wakefulness after sleep onset (WASO). We estimated pathways from violent crime (2016–2018) to sleep through psychological distress, perceptions of safety and perceived adequacy of police presence.

Results WASO was most strongly associated with violent crimes that were within 1/10 mile of the participant’s home and within the month preceding the interview. Violent crimes were associated with lower perceived safety (β=−0.13 (0.03), p<0.001) and greater WASO (β=5.96 (2.80), p=0.03). We observed no indirect associations between crime and either WASO or sleep duration through any of the tested mediators. Crime was not associated with sleep duration.

Conclusions We demonstrated that more proximal and more recent violent crimes were associated with reduced perceived safety and worse WASO. Differential exposure to violent crime among Black Americans may contribute to health disparities by reducing residents’ perceived safety and sleep health.

  • Neighborhood/place
  • sleep
  • psychological stress
  • violence

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  • Twitter Wendy M Troxel @wendytroxel.

  • Contributors AR conceptualised the research questions, analysed and interpreted data and drafted the manuscript. WMT, TD, MG-D, GPH, RB, RC, SBH, AN, LH, DJB and MPB interpreted results and contributed to manuscript drafts. WMT and TD were guarantors (controlled the decision to publish the work).

  • Funding Funding was provided by the National Heart Lung Blood Institute (grant no. R01 HL122460 ‘Neighborhood Change: Impact on Sleep and Obesity-Related Health Disparities’).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Consent obtained directly from patient(s).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.