The health and housing in transition study: a longitudinal study of the health of homeless and vulnerably housed adults in three Canadian cities
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While substantial research has demonstrated the poor health status of homeless populations, the health status of vulnerably housed individuals is largely unknown. Furthermore, few longitudinal studies have assessed the impact of housing transitions on health. The health and housing in transition (HHiT) study is a prospective cohort study that aims to track the health and housing status of a representative sample of homeless and vulnerably housed single adults in three Canadian cities (Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver). This paper discusses the HHiT study methodological recruitment strategies and follow-up procedures, including a discussion of the limitations and challenges experienced to date.
Participants (n = 1,192) were randomly selected at shelters, meal programmes, community health centres, drop-in centres, rooming houses, and single-room occupancy hotels from January to December 2009 and are being re-interviewed every 12 months for a 2-year period.
At baseline, over 85% of participants reported having at least one chronic health condition, and over 50% reported being diagnosed with a mental health problem.
Our findings suggest that, regardless of housing status, participants had extremely poor overall health.
KeywordsHomeless persons Vulnerable populations Housing Health Mental health Quality of life Longitudinal studies
This project was supported by an operating grant (MOP-86765) and an Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Grant on Homelessness, Housing and Health (HOA-80066) from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The Centre for Research on Inner City Health in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The authors thank Ying Di, Centre for Research on Inner City Health, for her expert programming and analyses. We would like to acknowledge the following individuals from our community partner organizations: Laura Cowan, Liz Evans, Sarah Evans, Stephanie Gee, Clare Haskel, Erika Khandor, and Wendy Muckle. The authors also thank the shelter, drop-in, and municipal and provincial staff for their assistance with participant recruitment and follow-up. The views expressed here are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or any of the other named individuals or organizations.
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