A large body of evidence documents the adverse relationship between concentrated deprivation and health. Among the evaluations of regeneration initiatives to tackle these spatial inequalities, few have traced the trajectories of individuals over time and fewer still have employed counterfactual comparison. We investigate the impact of one such initiative in England, the New Deal for Communities (NDC), which ran from 1999 to 2011, on socioeconomic inequalities in health trajectories.
Latent Growth Curve modelling of within-person changes in self-rated health, mental health and life satisfaction between 2002 and 2008 of an analytical cohort of residents of 39 disadvantaged areas of England in which the NDC was implemented, compared with residents of comparator, non-intervention areas, focusing on: (1) whether differences over time in outcomes can be detected between NDC and comparator areas and (2) whether interventions may have altered socioeconomic differences in outcomes.
No evidence was found for an overall improvement in the three outcomes, or for significant differences in changes in health between respondents in NDC versus comparator areas. However, we found a weakly significant gap in life satisfaction and mental health between high and low socioeconomic status individuals in comparator areas which widened over time to a greater extent than in NDC areas. Change over time in the three outcomes was non-linear: individual improvements among NDC residents were largest before 2006.
There is limited evidence that the NDC moderated the impact of socioeconomic factors on mental health and life satisfaction trajectories. Furthermore, any NDC impact was strongest in the first 6 years of the programmes.