Special Issue "Housing and Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Andrew Beer
Website
Guest Editor
Dean of Research and Innovation, University of South Australia Business School, Australia
Interests: regional determinants of well being; the role of housing as a public good; tenure; public policy in improving quality of life; housing theory
Assoc. Prof. Emma Baker
Website
Guest Editor
School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Adelaide, Australia
Interests: housing affordability and quality; mental and physical health; causal analysis; healthy cities; inequality
Dr. Lyrian Daniel
Website
Guest Editor
School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Adelaide, Australia
Interests: architecture, building innovation systsems; thermal comfort; health outcomes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

You are invited to contribute to a Special Issue on housing and health in the 21st Century. This Special Issue seeks to look forward and understand emerging trends as societies and economies continue to transform, and as the world’s population becomes ever more urbanised. We welcome papers that examine the ways in which risks—including physical and psychosocial environmental harms—affect individuals and households. The Special Issue will consider issues such as overcrowding, the appropriateness of the current dwelling stock for achieving our health goals, the role of neighbourhoods and walkability in contributing to health, the ways in which housing may affect the long-term wellbeing of those with illnesses or disabilities, and new urban planning paradigms and their potential impacts.

The Special Issue welcomes contributions from both quantitative and qualitative scholars and is especaily interested in contributions that seek to make major conceptual or theoretical advances. Papers are not limtied to developed or developing economies and can consider supra-national issues, such as the development of international approaches, e.g., the World Health Organisation, to questions of housing and health. 

Prof. Andrew Beer
Assoc. Prof. Emma Baker
Dr. Lyrian Daniel
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Housing and physical health
  • Housing and mental health
  • Disability
  • Neighbourhood effects
  • Trends in housing and health
  • Urbanisation
  • Developed and developing economies

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Physical Attributes of Housing and Elderly Health: A New Dynamic Perspective
by and
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 4961; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244961 - 06 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Maintaining health and improving the quality of life of the elderly is extremely challenging in an aging society. In this study, the relationship between housing and the independence and functional capabilities of the elderly is examined, and the effect of housing conditions on [...] Read more.
Maintaining health and improving the quality of life of the elderly is extremely challenging in an aging society. In this study, the relationship between housing and the independence and functional capabilities of the elderly is examined, and the effect of housing conditions on health improvements and their economic benefits for the elderly in terms of medical expenditures are assessed. The study is based on the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), which was conducted in 2011 and 2013. Two indices that measure housing conditions and the health status of the elderly were run through regression and state-transition models. Housing was found to have a positive relationship with the health of the elderly, and the improvement of housing conditions could significantly change health status and decrease medical expenditures. The importance of maintaining the health of the elderly through housing adaptations and the economic benefits of housing interventions are highlighted, as these can contribute to both public health and housing adaption subsidy policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Longitudinal Associations between Perceived Quality of Living Spaces and Health-Related Quality of Life among Homeless and Vulnerably Housed Individuals Living in Three Canadian Cities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4808; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234808 - 29 Nov 2019
Abstract
The objective of this study was to examine longitudinal associations between perceived quality of living spaces and mental and physical health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among homeless and vulnerably housed individuals living in three Canadian cities. The Health and Housing in Transition (HHiT) [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to examine longitudinal associations between perceived quality of living spaces and mental and physical health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among homeless and vulnerably housed individuals living in three Canadian cities. The Health and Housing in Transition (HHiT) study was a prospective cohort study conducted between 2009 and 2013 of N = 1190 individuals who were homeless and vulnerably housed at baseline. Perceived quality of living spaces (based on rated comfort, safety, spaciousness, privacy, friendliness and overall quality) and both mental and physical HRQoL were assessed at baseline and at four annual follow up points. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) analyses were used to examine associations between perceived quality of living spaces and both mental and physical HRQoL over the four-year study period, controlling for time-varying housing status, health and socio-demographic variables. The results showed that higher perceived quality of living spaces was positively associated with mental (b = 0.42; 95% CI 0.38—0.47) and physical (b = 0.11; 95% CI 0.07—0.15) HRQoL over the four-year study period. Findings indicate that policies aimed at increasing HRQoL in this population should prioritize improving their experienced quality of living spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
Open AccessArticle
The Relative Risk of Homelessness among Persons with a Disability: New Methods and Policy Insights
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4304; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224304 - 06 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper reports on the first phase of an ambitious program of research that seeks to both understand the risk of homelessness amongst persons with a disability in Australia and shed light on the impact of a significant policy reform—the introduction of the [...] Read more.
This paper reports on the first phase of an ambitious program of research that seeks to both understand the risk of homelessness amongst persons with a disability in Australia and shed light on the impact of a significant policy reform—the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)—in changing the level of homelessness risk. This first paper, reports on the level of homelessness risk for persons with a disability prior to the introduction of the NDIS, with a subsequent paper providing updated data and analysis for the period post the implementation of the NDIS. In one sense, this paper provides the ‘base’ condition prior to the introduction of the NDIS but also serves a far broader role in advancing our understanding of how disability and chronic ill-health affects the risk of homelessness. Our research finds that in the period prior to the introduction of the NDIS, a large proportion of people with disabilities were at risk of homelessness, but those whose disabilities affected their schooling or employment were at the greatest risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
How Does Household Residential Instability Influence Child Health Outcomes? A Quantile Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4189; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214189 - 29 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
At the core of housing and welfare research is a premise that stable residential environments are important to children’s health and development. The relationship between housing stability and health outcomes for children is, however, complex; stable housing situations are sometimes associated with poorer [...] Read more.
At the core of housing and welfare research is a premise that stable residential environments are important to children’s health and development. The relationship between housing stability and health outcomes for children is, however, complex; stable housing situations are sometimes associated with poorer health outcomes, and some children may be more or less resilient to residential instability. The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) dataset enables us to longitudinally follow the housing and health of more than 10,000 children and their families. We employ a quantile analysis technique, a currently underutilized tool for testing associations across the distribution of an outcome, to test whether exposure to housing instability has a differential impact on children’s health dependent on their initial health status. Our findings suggest that the health outcomes of residential instability are highly dependent on children’s initial health status. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Perceptions of Mental Health and Wellbeing Following Residential Displacement and Damage from the 2018 St. John River Flood
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4174; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214174 - 29 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Climate change has spurred an increase in the prevalence and severity of natural disasters. Damage from natural disasters can lead to residential instability, which negatively impacts mental health and wellbeing. However, research on the mental health of residents who are displaced after natural [...] Read more.
Climate change has spurred an increase in the prevalence and severity of natural disasters. Damage from natural disasters can lead to residential instability, which negatively impacts mental health and wellbeing. However, research on the mental health of residents who are displaced after natural disasters is relatively novel and needs more study. This study investigates experiences of mental health in residents in New Brunswick, Canada, who experienced residential damage and/or displacement during the 2018 spring flood. Lived experiences were studied through focus groups with 20 residents and perceptions of community mental health and wellbeing were captured during key informant interviews with 10 local community leaders. Data collection and analysis employed grounded theory. Findings indicate that those who had residential displacement or damage due to the flooding experienced negative mental health impacts, both during and following the flood. While natural disasters have devastating impacts on mental health, the data also indicate that the communities were positively impacted by a collective and collaborative response to the flood. This paper argues for the utility of communal coping as a concept to describe the experiences of communities following residential damage and/or displacement following natural disasters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
Open AccessArticle
A Systematised Review of the Health Impact of Urban Informal Settlements and Implications for Upgrading Interventions in South Africa, a Rapidly Urbanising Middle-Income Country
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3608; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193608 - 26 Sep 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Informal settlements are becoming more entrenched within African cities as the urban population continues to grow. Characterised by poor housing conditions and inadequate services, informal settlements are associated with an increased risk of disease and ill-health. However, little is known about how informal [...] Read more.
Informal settlements are becoming more entrenched within African cities as the urban population continues to grow. Characterised by poor housing conditions and inadequate services, informal settlements are associated with an increased risk of disease and ill-health. However, little is known about how informal settlement upgrading impacts health over time. A systematised literature review was conducted to explore existing evidence and knowledge gaps on the association between informal settlement characteristics and health and the impact of informal settlement upgrading on health, within South Africa, an upper-middle income African country. Using two databases, Web of Science and PubMed, we identified 46 relevant peer-reviewed articles published since 1998. Findings highlight a growing body of research investigating the ways in which complete physical, mental and social health are influenced by the physical housing structure, the psychosocial home environment and the features of the neighbourhood and community in the context of informal settlements. However, there is a paucity of longitudinal research investigating the temporal impact of informal settlement upgrading or housing improvements on health outcomes of these urban residents. Informal settlements pose health risks particularly to vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and people with suppressed immune systems, and are likely to aggravate gender-related inequalities. Due to the complex interaction between health and factors of the built environment, there is a need for further research utilising a systems approach to generate evidence that investigates the interlinked factors that longitudinally influence health in the context of informal settlement upgrading in rapidly growing cities worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Use of Simple Telemetry to Reduce the Health Impacts of Fuel Poverty and Living in Cold Homes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2853; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162853 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Introduction: In Great Britain, roughly half of people with at least one long-standing illness (LSI) live in low-income households. Lower-income households are at risk of fuel poverty and living in a colder house, which can worsen certain health conditions, causing related morbidity and [...] Read more.
Introduction: In Great Britain, roughly half of people with at least one long-standing illness (LSI) live in low-income households. Lower-income households are at risk of fuel poverty and living in a colder house, which can worsen certain health conditions, causing related morbidity and mortality. This pilot study aimed to assess whether raising occupants’ awareness of indoor temperatures in the home could initiate improved health and well-being among such vulnerable residents. Methods: Thermometers were placed inside a manufactured bamboo brooch to be worn or placed within homes during the winter of 2016/17. These devices were supplied to households (n = 34) already assisted by Community Energy Plus, which is a private social enterprise in Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK), using initiatives aimed at maintaining “healthy homes”. Questionnaires were supplied to households before devices were supplied, and then again at the end of a three-month period, with further questions asked when devices were collected. Temperatures were recorded automatically every half-hour and used to draw inference from questionnaire responses, particularly around health and well-being. Results: Questionnaires were completed by 22 households. Throughout the winter, those declaring the poorest health when supplied with devices maintained homes at a higher average temperature. There were also indications that those with raised awareness of interior temperatures sought fewer casual medicines. Conclusion: Simple telemetry could play a role in the management of chronic health conditions in winter, helping healthcare systems become more sustainable. The need for higher indoor temperatures among people with an LSI highlights the need to consider this approach alongside more sustainable household energy-efficiency improvements. A larger study is needed to explore this further and quantify the cost benefit of this approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Housing for People with an Acquired Brain or Spinal Injury: Mapping the Australian Funding Landscape
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2822; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162822 - 07 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This research aimed to synthesize housing supports funded by 20 major insurance-based schemes for Australians with an acquired brain injury (ABI) or spinal cord injury (SCI). Publicly available grey literature (i.e., primary information from respective scheme websites) was systematically reviewed and compared. There [...] Read more.
This research aimed to synthesize housing supports funded by 20 major insurance-based schemes for Australians with an acquired brain injury (ABI) or spinal cord injury (SCI). Publicly available grey literature (i.e., primary information from respective scheme websites) was systematically reviewed and compared. There were notable differences between the different scheme types (disability vs. workers compensation schemes) and across different States. Collectively, scheme funding was more likely to be focused on housing infrastructure and service delivery, than on tenancy support. Australians who are least likely to benefit from the current funding context are those whose home cannot be reasonably modified, are wanting to build or purchase a new home, do not have suitable, alternative short- or long-term housing options if their current home is not feasible, require support to maintain occupancy of their home or financial assistance to move into a new home, may benefit from case management services, family supports, and assistance animals, and/or cannot afford their rent or home loan repayments. Several interactions, inconsistencies, contradictions, and gaps that warrant further attention were also revealed. This review has highlighted the need for policy makers to provide transparent information about housing entitlements for individuals with ABI or SCI, and their families. A unified, evidence-based framework to guide the funding of housing and housing support services may increase the consistency of interventions available to people with ABI or SCI and, therefore, improve outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Exposure to Indoor Mouldy Odour Increases the Risk of Asthma in Older Adults Living in Social Housing
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(14), 2600; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16142600 - 22 Jul 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
Background: Indoor dampness is thought to affect around 16% of European homes. It is generally accepted that increased exposure to indoor dampness and mould contamination (e.g., spores and hyphae) increases the risk of developing and/or exacerbating asthma. Around 30% of people in the [...] Read more.
Background: Indoor dampness is thought to affect around 16% of European homes. It is generally accepted that increased exposure to indoor dampness and mould contamination (e.g., spores and hyphae) increases the risk of developing and/or exacerbating asthma. Around 30% of people in the Western world have an allergic disease (e.g., allergy, wheeze and asthma). The role of indoor mould contamination in the risk of allergic diseases in older adults is yet to be fully explored. This is of interest because older people spend more time indoors, as well as facing health issues due to the ageing process, and may be at greater risk of developing and/or exacerbating asthma as a result of indoor dampness. Methods: Face-to-face questionnaires were carried out with 302 participants residing in social housing properties located in South West England. Self-reported demographic, mould contamination (i.e., presence of mould growth and mouldy odour) and health information was linked with the asset management records (e.g., building type, age and levels of maintenance). Multivariate logistic regression was used to calculate the odd ratios and confidence intervals of developing and/or exacerbating asthma, wheeze and allergy with exposure to reported indoor mould contamination. We adjusted for a range of factors that may affect asthma outcomes, which include age, sex, current smoking, presence of pets, education, and building type and age. To assess the role of mould contamination in older adults, we compared younger adults to those aged over 50 years. Results: Doctor-diagnosed adult asthma was reported by 26% of respondents, 34% had current wheeze while 18% had allergies. Asthma was common among subjects exposed to reported visible mould (32%) and reported mouldy odour (42%). Exposure to visible mould growth and mouldy odour were risk factors for asthma, but not for wheeze or allergy. Exposure to mouldy odour increased the risk of asthma in adults over the age of 50 years (odds ratio (OR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10–5.34) and the risk was higher for females than for males (OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.37–9.08). These associations were modified by a range of built environment characteristics. Conclusions: We found that older adults living in social (public) housing properties, specifically women, may be at higher risk of asthma when exposed to mouldy odour, which has a number of implications for policy makers and practitioners working in the health and housing sector. Additional measures should be put in place to protect older people living in social housing against indoor damp and mould contamination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Gender Differences in Geriatric Depressive Symptoms in Rural China: The Role of Physical Housing Environments and Living Arrangements
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 774; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050774 - 04 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Physical housing environment and living arrangements are significant determinants of health, particularly in developing countries, although results are mixed. We conducted this study to examine the gender differences in geriatric depressive symptoms in rural China, and further explored the influence of housing environments [...] Read more.
Physical housing environment and living arrangements are significant determinants of health, particularly in developing countries, although results are mixed. We conducted this study to examine the gender differences in geriatric depressive symptoms in rural China, and further explored the influence of housing environments and living arrangements on depressive symptoms. The data used for this study were from the third wave of the nationally representative China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) survey in 2015; a total of 2056 females and 2529 males were included in this study. According to the analysis findings, 46.15% of the respondents had depressive symptoms based on the CES-D, with a statistically significant gender difference of 54.32% in females and 39.50% in males. Logistic Regression findings identified that with regard to the items of physical housing environments, toilets without seats (OR = 1.349) and the unavailability of bathing facilities (OR = 1.469) were statistically associated with depressive symptoms among male participants, whereas for female participants the use of polluting fuels (OR = 1.248) and living arrangements (i.e., living with children, OR = 1.430) was statistically associated with depressive symptoms. Statistically significant gender differences were found for having shower or bath facilities and our findings underscored that physical housing environments and living arrangements were associated with depressive symptoms for both genders. Moreover, the study revealed that a slight gender difference exists in terms of geriatric depression in rural China. Females are more likely to become depressed than their male counterparts with the same characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Causes of Delays during Housing Adaptation for Healthy Aging in the UK
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(2), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16020192 - 11 Jan 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Housing adaptation is a rehabilitation intervention that removes environmental barriers to help older people accommodate changing needs and age in place. In the UK, funding application for home adaptations to local authorities is subject to several procedural steps, including referral, allocation, assessment, funding [...] Read more.
Housing adaptation is a rehabilitation intervention that removes environmental barriers to help older people accommodate changing needs and age in place. In the UK, funding application for home adaptations to local authorities is subject to several procedural steps, including referral, allocation, assessment, funding and installation. The five stages need to complete in a sequential manner, often cause long delays. This study aims to investigate the timelines across these key stages of the adaptation process and examine the main causes of delays in current practice. A mixed-methods research strategy was employed. A questionnaire survey was first undertaken with all 378 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales; it was followed by 5 semi-structured interviews and 1 focus group meeting with selected service providers, and 2 case studies of service users. The results showed that the average length of time taken to complete the whole process is relatively long, with the longest waiting time being observed at the funding decision stage. Delays were found in each of the key stages. Main causes of delay include insufficient resources, lack of joint work, legal requirements, shortage of competent contractors and the client’s decisions. These issues need to be addressed in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of future housing adaptation practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing and Health)
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