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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


VIAL, Eloir Antonio et al. Urban violence and social capital in a southern Brazilian city: a quantitative and qualitative study. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2010, vol.28, n.4, pp.289-297. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To study the relationship between reported urban violence and social capital in a medium-sized city in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. METHODS: The study was carried out with adults living in the urban area of São Leopoldo. For the quantitative analysis, a structured questionnaire was answered by 1 100 individuals older than 20 years of age and in charge of the household at the moment of the interview. Violence was evaluated based on the reports of violent arguments, theft or robbery, drug-related events, and homicides in the neighborhood over the previous six months. Social capital was defined based on the reported degree of trust among neighbors, informal social control, opinions on the actions of government and politicians, and social action in the neighborhoods. For the qualitative analysis, 11 participants residing in the area with the lowest or with the highest social capital answered a semi-structured interview. RESULTS: People living in low-trust neighborhoods reported higher rates of homicide (OR = 2.82; 95%CI: 1.67-4.74; P > 0.001) and violent arguments (OR = 2.56; 95%CI: 1.82-3.59; P > 0.001) than people living in high-trust neighborhoods. Violent situations were reported most often in neighborhoods with low social capital, in which a lack of government attention was also reported. CONCLUSIONS: In neighborhoods with the highest social capital, the prevalence of reported violence was lower. Priority should be given to public policies that promote social capital for the common good.

Keywords : Violence; qualitative research; cross-sectional studies; social medicine; Brazil.

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