The impact of housing and neighborhood context on children’s mental health, as addressed by Flouri et al. (Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 2014), is an important, understudied topic in social epidemiology. Although the vast majority of this body of research has been descriptive, generating translational research is essential. This article offers guidance on interpreting evidence from observational studies for translation into policy, related to three policy-relevant elements of housing: receipt of affordable housing subsidies, the target population to which results generalize, and operationalization and modeling of neighborhood context. Policy translation is imperative for understanding which levers outside the health sector can be manipulated to change fundamental causes of mental health related to housing and neighborhood. Shifting from policy relevance to policy translation may be challenging, especially for understanding social causation in observational studies, but it is a necessary shift for improving population health.
- Social epidemiology