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At the Institute for Health and Nursing Science, Nils Merten investigated the significance of neighbourhood characteristics for health in his bachelor thesis. The focus was on the "Central Kreuzberg" neighbourhood, with the Kottbusser Tor at its centre. This neighbourhood is characterised by a complex problem situation for health and well-being of the residents. An approach of municipal health promotion can be appropriate to counteract the potentially harmful effects on health.

The project focused on the following research questions:

  • How do residents perceive their neighbourhood in terms of health and quality of life?
  • Which resources can they identify?
  • What influence do residents have on health-related decisions?
These questions were addressed in a participatory data collection process involving eight people who were active in the neighbourhood: During a one-day workshop, the participants created a map of "Central Kreuzberg" using the method of "community mapping" (see figure), which they discussed afterwards. The community map was deductively analysed with regard to places of relevance for health, resources, dangers and barriers, and the following group discussion was analysed with content analysis.

The categories "infrastructure", "participation procedures", "urban development and displacement", "resources", "problem areas" and "community" were extracted from the material. The neighbourhood has a good infrastructure for the health and well-being of its residents and has a wide range of resources and potentials. However, the problem situation, which is also described in the municipal neighbourhood report (Atrache-Younes et al., 2017), was also reflected in the participants' discussion. Rising rental prices and real estate speculations could further worsen these problems through social displacement processes: Especially measures to reduce these issues could become a threat for today's residents due to further increasing prices. Many people could therefore benefit little to nothing from the improvement in health promotion. A central point of criticism addressed the current participation processes in health and urban development issues, which are perceived as being used pro forma to legitimise already determined concepts. Thus, the neighbourhood's own influence on political or economic decisions is perceived as low.

The results of the project show that the active involvement of local residents should be seen as a key to successful and sustainable implementation of municipal health promotion projects. A long-lasting improvement of the problems in the neighbourhood can only be achieved through cooperation of all relevant actors as equal partners.

The bachelor thesis was written in the degree programme "Health Sciences" and was supervised by Dr. rer. cur. Ines Wulff (Dieter Scheffner Fachzentrum für medizinische Hochschullehre und evidenzbasierte Ausbildungsforschung, DSFZ) and Judith Czakert (Institute for Health and Nursing Science).


Atrache-Youned, L., Bosa, N., Hilse, T. & VDE e.V. (2017). Integriertes Handlungs- und Entwicklungskonzept 2017-2019. Quartiersmanagement Zentrum Kreuzberg/Oranienstraße. Online

Merten, N. (2018). Die Bedeutung von Quartiersmerkmalen für die Gesundheit. Eine partizipative Untersuchung mit Anwohnern und Anwohnerinnen des Kottbusser Tors in Berlin. Unveröffentlichte Bachelorarbeit, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.


Nils Merten

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