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Housing and health: new evidence using biomarker data
  1. Amy Clair1,
  2. Amanda Hughes2
  1. 1 ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
  2. 2 MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amy Clair, ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK; amy.clair{at}


Background The link between housing and health is well established and long-standing, however much of the evidence relies on self-reported health measures. While these are useful, the availability of biomarker data allows us to add to this evidence using objective indicators of health.

Methods In this paper, we use C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker associated with infection and stress, alongside information relating to housing details, demographic characteristics and health behaviours taken from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Hierarchical linear regression models estimate CRP for individual housing characteristics, and all available housing characteristics, controlling for confounders.

Results Results indicate that housing tenure, type, cost burden and desire to stay in current home are associated with CRP. Private renters have significantly higher (worse) CRP than owners with a mortgage. In terms of housing type, respondents living in detached homes had lower CRP than those in semidetached or terraced houses, or those living in flats. Housing cost burden is associated with lower CRP, although further analysis indicates that this is the case only for low-income renters. Desire to stay in current home is significantly associated with higher CRP.

Conclusions A number of housing characteristics were associated with CRP. These results further support an important role for housing in health.

  • housing
  • health
  • biomarkers
  • inflammation
  • Great Britain

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  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Contributors AC and AH were both involved in the development of the research idea, the analysis and the write-up of the paper.

  • Funding AC was supported by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grant number ES/L009153/1. AH’s time on this manuscript was supported by ESRC grant ES/M008592/1 while at the University of Essex. The biomarker data from the UKHLS were collected by NatCen on behalf of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. They are made available through the UKDS (SN 7251).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All of the data used in this paper are available to researchers via the UK Data Archive.

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