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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 Sep;61(9):771-7.

The Watcombe Housing Study: the short term effect of improving housing conditions on the health of residents.

Author information

1
Peninsula Research & Development Support Unit, Room N17 ITTC Building, Tamar Science Park, Plymouth, UK. andy.barton@phnt.swest.nhs.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the short term health effects of improving housing.

DESIGN:

Randomised to waiting list.

SETTING:

119 council owned houses in south Devon, UK.

PARTICIPANTS:

About 480 residents of these houses.

INTERVENTION:

Upgrading houses (including central heating, ventilation, rewiring, insulation, and re-roofing) in two phases a year apart.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

All residents completed an annual health questionnaire: SF36 and GHQ12 (adults). Residents reporting respiratory illness or arthritis were interviewed using condition-specific questionnaires, the former also completing peak flow and symptom diaries (children) or spirometry (adults). Data on health service use and time lost from school were collected.

RESULTS:

Interventions improved energy efficiency. For those living in intervention houses, non-asthma-related chest problems (Mann-Whitney test, p = 0.005) and the combined asthma symptom score for adults (Mann-Whitney test, z = 2.7, p = 0.007) diminished significantly compared with control houses. No difference between intervention and control houses was seen for SF36 or GHQ12.

CONCLUSIONS:

Rigorous study designs for the evaluation of complex public health and community based interventions are possible. Quantitatively measured health benefits are small, but as health benefits were measured over a short time scale, there may have been insufficient time for measurable improvements in general and disease-specific health to become apparent.

PMID:
17699530
PMCID:
PMC2659999
DOI:
10.1136/jech.2006.048462
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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