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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 94, Issue 6, pp 436–440 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Housing Conditions and Health Status of Rooming House Residents in Toronto

  • Stephen W. HwangEmail author
  • Rochelle E. Martin
  • George S. Tolomiczenko
  • J. David Hulchanski
Article

Abstract

Background

Rooming houses are an important source of housing for low-income Canadians. Little information is available on the relationship between housing conditions and health status in this vulnerable population.

Methods

Interviews were conducted with a representative sample of 295 residents in 171 rooming houses in Toronto. Health status was assessed using the SF-36. The physical attractiveness of each rooming house was rated using the Multiphasic Environmental Assessment Procedure. Associations between the health status of residents and the physical attractiveness and organizational characteristics of rooming houses were examined.

Results

Rooming house residents aged 35 years and older had significantly poorer health status than their counterparts in the Canadian general population. Eight of the ten dimensions of individual health status assessed by the SF-36 were significantly correlated with the physical attractiveness of the rooming house in which the individual lived. However, there was no significant association between residents’ health status and the rooming house’s non-profit status, provision of meals, or the presence of an on-site landlord.

Conclusions

Rooming house residents suffer from a high prevalence of ill health. Residents reporting worst health are concentrated in rooming houses in the poorest physical condition. This relationship may be mediated by selection processes that place the sickest individuals in the lowest-quality rooming houses, and/or by a direct effect of adverse housing conditions on health status. Further research is needed to elucidate these processes and to improve the health of this vulnerable population.

Résumé

Contexte

Les maisons de chambres sont une importante source de logements pour les Canadiens à faible revenu. Or, on en sait très peu sur la relation entre les conditions de logement et l’état de santé dans ce segment vulnérable de la population.

Méthode

Nous avons interviewé un échantillon représentatif de 295 résidents de 171 maisons de chambres de Toronto. Leur état de santé a été évalué grâce à l’outil SF-36. Nous avons évalué l’aspect esthétique de chaque maison de chambres à l’aide de l’instrument MEAP (Multiphasic Environmental Assessment Procedure), puis les associations entre l’état de santé des résidents, l’aspect esthétique des maisons de chambres et leur organisation.

Résultats

L’état de santé des personnes de 35 ans vivant en maison de chambres était sensiblement moins bon que celui des 35 ans et plus dans la population canadienne générale. Huit des 10 dimensions de l’état de santé individuel évaluées par le SF-36 présentaient une corrélation significative avec l’aspect esthétique de la maison de chambres où vivait la personne en question. Nous n’avons cependant constaté aucune association significative entre l’état de santé des résidents et le but lucratif ou non lucratif des maisons de chambres, le fait que les repas soient compris ou non, ou la présence ou l’absence du propriétaire sur les lieux.

Conclusions

La prévalence des problèmes de santé chez les résidents des maisons de chambres est élevée. Les résidents dont l’état de santé déclaré était le pire étaient concentrés dans les maisons de chambres les plus délabrées. Cette relation pourrait s’expliquer par des méthodes de sélection qui placent les plus malades dans les pires maisons, et/ou par l’effet direct des conditions de logement indésirables sur l’état de santé. Il faudrait pousser la recherche pour élucider ces mécanismes et améliorer la santé de ce segement vulnérable de la population.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen W. Hwang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rochelle E. Martin
    • 1
  • George S. Tolomiczenko
    • 1
    • 3
  • J. David Hulchanski
    • 2
  1. 1.Inner City Health Research UnitSt. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Urban and Community StudiesUniversity of TorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of TorontoCanada

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