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Damp housing and adult health: results from a lifestyle study in Worcester, England.
  1. C N Packer,
  2. S Stewart-Brown,
  3. S E Fowle
  1. Department of Public Health Medicine, Worcester and District Health Authority.

    Abstract

    STUDY OBJECTIVE--To explore the relationship between damp housing and adult health using two separate measures of ill health and taking into account the confounding effects of health related lifestyles and social factors. DESIGN AND SETTING--Analysis of responses gathered in a cross sectional, postal questionnaire survey of a randomly selected sample of 5347 residents of Worcester. PARTICIPANTS--Altogether 2353 people aged 16 to 64 years responded to the survey (adjusted response 52%). RESULTS--Nine per cent of respondents lived in housing which they reported to be damp. Rates were highest among young women. People who lived in damp housing were more likely to report long standing illness, disability, or infirmity; the increased prevalence could not be attributed to any particular medical condition. Perceived ill health, as measured by the sleep, energy, and social isolation dimensions of the Nottingham Health Profile, was also more common in this group. These associations could not be explained by lifestyle factors; the relationship proved strongest among people in non-manual social classes living in owner occupied housing. The prevalence of ill health increased as the severity of dampness increased. CONCLUSION--Self reported damp housing and ill health in adults were strongly associated, most noticeably among people in non-manual social classes living in owner occupied housing. The association met many of the epidemiological criteria necessary for suggesting causality: alternative explanations are discussed.

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