Background: To assess the social capital profile of a known disadvantaged area a large cross-sectional survey was undertaken. The social capital profile of this area was compared to data from the whole of the state. The overall health status of the disadvantaged area was assessed in relation to a wide variety of social capital related variables. Univariate and multivariate analysis were undertaken.
Results: In the univariate analysis many statistically significant differences were found between the respondents in the disadvantaged area and the state estimates including overall health status, perceived attributes of the neighbourhood, levels of trust, community involvement and social activities. In the multivariate analysis very few variables were found to be statistically significantly associated with poorer health status. The variables that jointly predicted poorer health status in the disadvantaged area were older age, lower income, low sport participation, non-seeking help from neighbours and non-attendance at public meetings.
Conclusion: Measuring social capital on a population level is complex and the use of epidemiologically-based population surveys does not produce overly valuable results. The interrelational/dependence dichotomy of social capital is not yet fully understood making meaningful measurement in the broader population extremely difficult and hence is of questionable value for policy decision making.