International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 59, Issue 5, pp 739–748 | Cite as

Household crowding and psychosocial health among Inuit in Greenland

  • Mylène Riva
  • Christina Viskum Lytken Larsen
  • Peter Bjerregaard
Original Article

Abstract

Objectives

Poor housing conditions experienced by many Indigenous peoples threaten their health and well-being. This study examines whether household crowding is associated with poorer psychosocial health among Greenlanders, and the mediating role of social support. It also assesses whether Inuit men and women are differently influenced by their housing conditions.

Methods

Data on more than 3,000 Inuit aged 18 years and older are from the Inuit health in transition Greenland survey. Associations between household crowding and composition, and mental well-being and binge drinking were examined using logistic regression models, adjusting for individuals’ characteristics.

Results

Household crowding was associated with poorer mental well-being. Binge drinking was more common among people living in households without children. These effects were more important for women than for men. The association between household crowding and mental well-being was significantly mediated by social support. This suggests that having a strong social network may buffer the deleterious impacts of household crowding.

Conclusions

Targeting housing conditions and fostering social support as part of population health interventions might contribute to improving psychosocial health and well-being in Greenland.

Keywords

Indigenous health Inuit Housing Crowding Psychosocial health Greenland 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Financial support was received from Karen Elise Jensen’s foundation, NunaFonden and the Danish Medical Research Council. MR’s initial work on this paper was supported by a Banting postdoctoral fellowship awarded from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (funding reference number: BPF-112930). We would like to thank the participants who gave their time to be involved in this study. We also acknowledge the useful comments of two anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

38_2014_599_MOESM1_ESM.docx (43 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 43 kb)

References

  1. Australian Government Department of Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (2013) Footprints in time: the longitudinal study of Indigenous children. Report from Wave 4. Available at: http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/Indigenous-australians/publications-articles/families-children/footprints-in-time-the-longitudinal-study-of-Indigenous-children-lsic/key-summary-report-from-wave-4
  2. Bailie RS, Wayte KJ (2006) Housing and health in Indigenous communities: key issues for housing and health improvement in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Aust J Rural Health 14:178–183PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banerji A, Greenberg D, White L, Macdonald W, Saxton A, Thomas E et al (2009) Risk factors and viruses associated with hospitalization due to lower respiratory tract infections in Canadian Inuit children : a case–control study. Pediatr Infect Dis J 28:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bjerregaard P (2010) Inuit health in transition—Greenland survey 2005–2009. Population sample and survey methods. http://www.si-folkesundhed.dk/upload/metoderapport_endelig.pdf. Accessed 2 Sep 2014
  5. Bjerregaard P, Curtis T (2002) Cultural change and mental health in Greenland: the association of childhood conditions, language, and urbanization with mental health and suicidal thoughts among the Inuit of Greenland. Soc Sci Med 54:33–48PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bjerregaard P, Dahl-Petersen I (2008) Befolkningsundersøgelsen i Grønland 2005–2007 (Population health survey in Greenland 2005–2007. In Danish). National Institute of Public health, Writings on Greenland, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  7. Bjerregaard P, Stensgaard T (2008) Greenland. In: Young TK, Bjerregaard P (eds) Health transitions in Arctic populations University of Toronto Press. Canada, Toronto, pp 23–38Google Scholar
  8. Bjerregaard P, Berner J, Odland JO (2008) Environment and living conditions. In: Young TK, Bjerregaard P (eds) Health transitions in Arctic populations University of Toronto Press. Canada, Toronto, pp 23–38Google Scholar
  9. Clark M, Riben P, Nowgesic E (2002) The association of housing density, isolation and tuberculosis in Canadian First Nations communities. Int J Epidemiol 31:940–943PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen S, Syme LS (eds) (1985) Social support and health. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  11. Dawson PC (2006) Seeing like an Inuit family: the relationship between house form and culture in northern Canada. Inuit Studies 30:113–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dunn JR (2002) Housing and inequalities in health: a study of socioeconomic dimensions of housing and self reported health from a survey of Vancouver residents. J Epidemiol Community Health 56:671–681PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Evans GW (1979) Behavioral and physiological consequences of crowding in humans. Appl Soc Psychol 9:27–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Evans GW, Wells NM, Moch A (2003) Housing and mental health: a review of the evidence and a methodological and conceptual critique. J Social Issues 59:475–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gabe J, Williams P (1986) Is space bad for your health? The relationship between crowding in the home and emotional distress in women. Sociol Health Ill 8:351–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goldberg DP, Williams P (1988) The user’s guide to the General Health Questionnaire, 1st edn. Windsor, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
  17. Gove WR, Hughes M (1983) Overcrowding in the household: an analysis of determinants and effects. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Gracey M, King M (2009) Indigenous health part 1: determinants and disease patterns. Lancet 374:65–75PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Griffin J, Fuhrer R, Stansfeld S, Marmot M (2002) The importance of low control at work and home on depression and anxiety: do these effects vary by gender and social class? Soc Sci Med 54:738–798CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hansen KG, Bitsch S, Zalkind L (2013) Urbanization and the role of housing in the present development process in the Arctic. Nordic Center for Spatial Development, Stockholm, Sweden. Available at: http://www.nordregio.se/en/Publications/Publications-2013/Urbanization-and-the-role-of-housing-in-the-present-development-process-in-the-Arctic/
  21. Healey GK, Meadows LM (2007) Inuit women’s health in Nunavut, Canada: a review of the literature. Int J Circumpolar Health 66:199–214PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kearns A, Whitley E, Mason P, Petticrew M, Hoy C (2011) Material and meaningful homes: mental health impacts and psychosocial benefits of rehousing to new dwellings. Int J Public Health 56:597–607PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kirmayer LJ, Guthrie Valaskakis G (eds) (2009) Healing traditions. The mental health of aboriginal peoples in Canada. UBC Press, VancouverGoogle Scholar
  24. Koch A, Sorensen P, Homoe P, Mølbak K, Pedersen FK, Mortensen T et al (2002) Population-based study of acute respiratory infections in children, Greenland. Emerg Infect Dis 8:586–593PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Kovesi T, Gilbert N, Stocco C, Fugler D, Dales R, Guay M et al (2007) Indoor air quality and the risk of lower respiratory tract infections in young Canadian Inuit children. CMAJ 177:155–160PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Larcombe L, Nickerson P, Singer M, Robson R, Dantouze J, McKay L et al (2011) Housing conditions in 2 Canadian first nations communities. Int J Circumpolar Health 70:141–153PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lauster N, Tester F (2010) Culture as a problem in linking material inequality to health: on residential crowding in the Arctic. Health Place 16:523–530PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lear SA, Teo K, Gasevic D, Zhang X, Poirier PP, Rangarajan S et al (2014) The association between ownership of common household devices and obesity and diabetes in high, middle and low income countries. CMAJ 186:258–266PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Lepore S, Evans G, Schneider M (1991) Dynamic role of social support in the link between chronic stress and psychological distress. J Pers Soc Psychol 61:899–909PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lynge I, Munk-Jørgensen P, Pedersen A, Mulvad G, Bjerregaard P (2003) Psykisk helbred hos patienter i Grønlands sundhedsvæsen (Mental health among patients in Greenland. In Danish). National Institute of Public Health, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  31. MacKinnon DP, Dwyer JH (1993) Estimating mediated effects in prevention studies. Eval Rev 17:144–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Memmott P, Birdsall-Jones C, Go-Sam C, Greenop K, Vanessa Corunna V (2011) Modelling crowding in Aboriginal Australia. Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. Queensland Research Centre and Western Australia Research Centre. AHURI Positioning Paper No. 141Google Scholar
  33. Minich K, Saudny H, Lennie C, Wood M, Williamson-Bathory L, Cao Z et al (2011) Inuit housing and homelessness: results from the international polar year Inuit health survey 2007–2008. Int J Circumpolar Health 70:520–531PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. PAARISA (2011) Mid-term evaluation and status report 2010. Evaluation report for ‘Early intervention in pregnant families’ (Danish only). Government of Greenland. Available at: http://www.paarisa.gl/media/18450/midtvejsevaluering_2010_tidlig_indsats.pdf. Accessed 2 Sep 2014
  35. Regoeczi WC (2008) Crowding in context: an examination of the differential responses of men and women to high-density living environments. J Health Soc Behav 49:254–268PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Richmond CAM (2009) The social determinants of Inuit health: a focus on social support in the Canadian Arctic. Int J Circumpolar Health 68:471–487PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Richmond CAM, Ross NA, Egeland GM (2007) Social support and thriving health: a new approach to understanding the health of Indigenous Canadians. Am J Public Health 97:1827–1833PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Riva M, Plusquellec P, Juster RP, Laouan-Sidi EA, Abdous B, Lucas M et al (2014) Household crowding is associated with higher allostatic load among Inuit. J Epidemiol Community Health 68:363–369PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shepherd CC, Li J, Mitrou F, Zubrick SR (2012) Socioeconomic disparities in the mental health of Indigenous children in Western Australia. BMC Public Health 12:756PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Siegrist J, Marmot M (2004) Health inequalities and the psychosocial environment-two scientific challenges. Soc Sci Med 58:1463–1473PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Søborg B, Andersen AB, Melbye M, Wohlfahrt J, Andersson M, Biggar RJ et al (2011) Risk factors for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection among children in Greenland. Bull World Health Org 89:741–748PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. StataCorp (2010) Stata/SE 11.0 for Windows. College station, TX, USAGoogle Scholar
  43. Statistics Greenland (2013) Greenland in figures 2013. Statistics Greenland. Available at: http://www.nordregio.se/en/Publications/Publications-2011/Megatrends/
  44. Stern P (2005) Wage labor, housing policy, and the nucleation of Inuit households. Arctic Anthropology 42:66–81PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Waldram JB, Herring DA, Young TK (2006) Aboriginal health in Canada: historical, cultural, and epidemiological perspectives, 2nd edn. University of Toronto Press, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  46. Wechsler H, Nelson T (2001) Binge drinking and the American college student: what’s five drinks? Psychol Addict Behav 15:287–291PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wells NM, Harris JD (2007) Housing quality, psychological distress, and the mediating role of social withdrawal: a longitudinal study of low-income women. J Environ Psychol 27:69–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Young TK, Bjerregaard P (2008) Health transitions in Arctic populations. University of Toronto Press, TorontoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mylène Riva
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christina Viskum Lytken Larsen
    • 3
  • Peter Bjerregaard
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Social and preventive medicineUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Population Health and Optimal Health Practices Research Unit, CHU de Québec Research CentreQuébecCanada
  3. 3.National Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern DenmarkCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Greenland Centre for Health ResearchUniversity of GreenlandNuukGreenland

Personalised recommendations