Needs and strengths of citizens in Amsterdam regarding improving their health and living environment

Amsterdam Southeast is characterized by a high ethnic diversity and high percentage of citizens with low-socioeconomic status (SES). Health promotion strategies on how to improve health and lives in this area is an enormous challenge for all parties involved. The aim of the present study was to identify and structure needs and strengths of citizens with low-SES of multi-ethnic backgrounds with respect to their health and living environment.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 citizens. The concept of Positive health was used to structure interviews into six health related domains: physical functioning, mental wellbeing, purpose, quality of life, participation, daily functioning. Data were analyzed using an inductive content analysis approach with open coding resulting in themes and sub-themes. An environmental scan was carried out to assess interactions of living environment with health of citizens.


Main themes were: physical environment, social environment and available services. The physical environment had improved, green space allowed people to relax and exercise. Biggest issue was litter in the streets, lack of parking space and availability of healthy food. Sense of community was strong and the neighborhood felt safe. Community centers played a large role in promoting health of citizens. More places to interact, like benches, were desired. Citizens generally did not ask for help when ill and some were lonely. Some citizens experienced a strong sense of purpose from being active in the neighborhood and a core group of active citizens in the district played a large role in social cohesion.


Citizens generally felt a strong sense of social cohesion. Litter and lack of parking space was a concern. Physical places and community centers were important for health of citizens. A core group of active citizens could be approached in order to enhance social cohesion and health.



M Jong, H van Wietmarschen, S Staps; Needs and strengths of citizens in Amsterdam regarding improving their health and living environment, European Journal of Public Health, Volume 28, Issue suppl_4, 1 November 2018, cky213.103,

Afbeelding credits

Icon afbeelding: Fotograaf: Renata Chede. Markt zuidoost, uit fotobank gemeente Amsterdam