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Can J Public Health. 2006 Sep-Oct;97 Suppl 3:S11-5, S12-7.

Housing as a socio-economic determinant of health: findings of a national needs, gaps and opportunities assessment.

[Article in English, French]

Author information

  • 1Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON.



In 2002-2003, a Needs, Gaps and Opportunities Assessment (NGOA) was conducted to investigate relationships between socio-economic dimensions of housing and health. Recent reviews of the literature point to a dearth of research on the socio-economic dimensions of housing and health, despite its potential for promoting health.


The NGOA sought to identify research needs and gaps, and future opportunities for research in housing, socio-economic status and health. The methods used included a literature scan, a scan of research capacity, eight regional stakeholder workshops across Canada, and an open-ended e-mail survey of stakeholders. In this paper, we report the findings of the stakeholder consultations.


The main finding of the NGOA was that there is a significant dearth of research on housing as a socio-economic determinant of health but enormous potential for conducting high-impact, longitudinal and quasi-experimental research in the area. Of particular interest to stakeholder participants in the NGOA were the economic aspects of housing and health; the impact of housing on health for vulnerable subgroups (e.g., Aboriginal peoples, immigrants, children, seniors); the role of socio-economically and ethnically mixed communities; and the interaction between socio-economic aspects of housing and biophysical hazards in the home.


The NGOA demonstrated that there is a substantial audience eager for knowledge on housing as a socio-economic determinant of health and that such knowledge could make an immediate impact on policy decision-making and program operation. Although knowledge gaps are substantial, the NGOA clearly identifies opportunities for high-impact, longitudinal and quasi-experimental research. Recently signed federal-provincial funding agreements for housing make the findings of the NGOA timely. Moreover, the NGOA results demonstrate how research on housing as a socio-economic determinant of health could be a strategy for improving our understanding of the effects of social environments on health and for reducing health disparities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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