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Housing Improvements Linked to Improvements in Health

Increased warmth, energy efficiency lead to improved general, respiratory, and mental health

FRIDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Better housing conditions -- especially warmth and energy-efficiency improvements -- are generally associated with better health, according to a study the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Hilary Thomson, of the MRC Social & Public Health Sciences Unit in Glasgow, U.K., and colleagues conducted a database search of housing-intervention studies published between 1887 and 2007, and performed a systematic review of 45 relevant studies, mostly from the United Kingdom.

The researchers found that housing warmth and energy-efficiency improvements were associated with improved general, respiratory, and mental health; however, findings varied across studies. For example, two large randomized controlled studies in New Zealand found that energy-efficiency retrofitting was associated with significant health improvements, but similar studies in the United Kingdom were less conclusive. The researchers also found that housing-led neighborhood renewal was associated with conflicting and unclear health impacts, and that interventions to provide basic housing amenities to people in developing countries were associated with health improvements, especially among children.

"These studies need to provide more-detailed data on intervention integrity, differential health impacts by socioeconomic status, and the socioeconomic impacts associated with housing improvement," the authors conclude. "Such data could provide valuable evidence on the types of housing improvements that are most likely to lead to health improvements and, in the longer term, to reduce health and social inequalities."

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