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Can J Public Health. 2019 Nov 18. doi: 10.17269/s41997-019-00249-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Relocating to a new or pre-existing social housing unit: significant health improvements for Inuit adults in Nunavik and Nunavut.

Author information

1
Canada Research Chair in Housing, Community, and Health; Assistant Professor, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Department of Geography, McGill University, Burnside Hall, 805 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC, H3A 0B9, Canada. mylene.riva@mcgill.ca.
2
Université Laval; Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.
3
Canada Research Chair in Housing, Community, and Health; Assistant Professor, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Department of Geography, McGill University, Burnside Hall, 805 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC, H3A 0B9, Canada.
4
Institut de recherche en santé publique, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada.
5
University of Sydney, University Centre for Rural Health, Lismore, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

In 2014-2015, over 400 social housing units were constructed in selected communities in Nunavik and Nunavut, two Inuit regions in northern Canada where housing shortages and poor quality housing are endemic and undermine population health. This paper presents results from a before-and-after study examining the effects of rehousing, i.e., relocating to a newly constructed or pre-existing social housing unit, on psychosocial health and asthma-related symptoms for Inuit adults.

METHODS:

Baseline data were collected 1-6 months before, and follow-up data 15-18 months after rehousing. Of the 289 participants at baseline, 186 were rehoused. Of the 169 participants eligible at follow-up, 102 completed the study. Self-reported health measures included psychological distress, perceived stress in daily life, perceived control over one's life, and asthma-related symptoms. Data are analyzed using multilevel models for longitudinal data.

RESULTS:

After adjusting for age, sex, and region of residence, participants reported significantly lower levels of psychological distress and perceived stress in daily life, and improved sense of control over their lives 15 to 18 months after rehousing. Participants were also significantly less likely to report asthma-related symptoms at follow-up.

CONCLUSION:

Significant positive health impacts are observed for adults who relocated to newly constructed or pre-existing social housing units. Increasing investments to redress the housing situation across Inuit Nunangat is required, not only to improve living conditions but also to improve the health and well-being of the population.

KEYWORDS:

Housing; Indigenous Peoples; Intervention; Inuit

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