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.
- BTS, British Thoracic Society
- GHQ, general health questionnaire
- SAP, standard assessment procedure
- SF36, 36 item short form health survey
- health service utilisation
- quality of life
- respiratory illness
- community participation
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Funding: The study was funded by the NHS Executive Research & Development Directorate, South West.
Competing interests: None.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.