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Relocating to a new or pre-existing social housing unit: significant health improvements for Inuit adults in Nunavik and Nunavut

  • Mylène RivaEmail author
  • Christopher Fletcher
  • Philippe Dufresne
  • Karine Perreault
  • Gina Muckle
  • Louise Potvin
  • Ross S. Bailie
Population Health Intervention Research

Abstract

Objectives

In 2014–2015, over 400 social housing units were constructed in selected communities in Nunavik and Nunavut, two Inuit regions in northern Canada where housing shortages and poor quality housing are endemic and undermine population health. This paper presents results from a before-and-after study examining the effects of rehousing, i.e., relocating to a newly constructed or pre-existing social housing unit, on psychosocial health and asthma-related symptoms for Inuit adults.

Methods

Baseline data were collected 1–6 months before, and follow-up data 15–18 months after rehousing. Of the 289 participants at baseline, 186 were rehoused. Of the 169 participants eligible at follow-up, 102 completed the study. Self-reported health measures included psychological distress, perceived stress in daily life, perceived control over one’s life, and asthma-related symptoms. Data are analyzed using multilevel models for longitudinal data.

Results

After adjusting for age, sex, and region of residence, participants reported significantly lower levels of psychological distress and perceived stress in daily life, and improved sense of control over their lives 15 to 18 months after rehousing. Participants were also significantly less likely to report asthma-related symptoms at follow-up.

Conclusion

Significant positive health impacts are observed for adults who relocated to newly constructed or pre-existing social housing units. Increasing investments to redress the housing situation across Inuit Nunangat is required, not only to improve living conditions but also to improve the health and well-being of the population.

Keywords

Housing Intervention Indigenous Peoples Inuit 

Résumé

Objectifs

En 2014-2015, plus de 400 logements sociaux ont été construits dans certaines communautés au Nunavik et au Nunavut, deux des quatre régions Inuit du nord du Canada où la pénurie de logements, et des conditions inadéquates des logements, sont endémiques et nuisent à la santé de la population. Cet article présente les résultats d’une étude pré-post qui évalue l’impact de déménager dans un logement social nouvellement construit, ou préexistant, sur la santé psychosociale et les symptômes liés à l’asthme chez des adultes Inuit.

Méthodes

Les données ont été recueillies entre 1 et 6 mois avant le déménagement (temps 0; t0), puis au suivi entre 15 à 18 mois après le déménagement. Sur les 289 participants recrutés à t0, 186 ont déménagé. Sur les 169 participants éligibles au suivi, 102 ont complété l’étude. Les mesures de santé autorapportées comprennent la détresse psychologique, le stress perçu dans la vie quotidienne, le contrôle sur la vie, et les symptômes liés à l’asthme. Les données ont été analysées à l'aide de modèles multiniveaux pour données longitudinales.

Résultats

De 15 à 18 mois suivant le déménagement, on observe une diminution significative de la détresse psychologique, du stress perçu dans la vie quotidienne, et des symptômes liés à l’asthme. On note aussi une augmentation significative de la perception du contrôle sur sa vie.

Conclusion

Déménager dans un logement social nouvellement construit, ou préexistant, a un effet positif et significatif sur la santé des Inuit. Augmenter les investissements pour remédier aux conditions inadéquates de logement est nécessaire, non seulement pour améliorer les conditions de vie, mais aussi pour améliorer la santé et le bien-être de la population.

Mots-clés

Logement Intervention Populations autochtones Inuit 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was conducted in collaboration with the following organizations which reviewed the article prior to submission: Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau, Kativik Regional Government, Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, Société d’habitation du Québec, Nunavut Housing Corporation, Government of Nunavut Department of Health, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. We acknowledge the collaboration of Inuit research assistants, local housing committees and managers, and mayors, without whom this study would not have been possible. We thank participants who generously gave their time to participate in the project. We acknowledge the contribution of other co-researchers on this project, the statistical advice of Jose Correa at McGill, and the contribution of graduate students who assisted with data collection.

Funding

This study is funded by the Institute of Indigenous Peoples Health of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Grant No. GIR134230) and by ArcticNet, a Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada. This research was undertaken, in part, thanks to funding from the Canada Research Chairs program. Karine Perreault is supported by a Doctoral Research Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Compliance with ethical standards

The project was approved and supported by mayors of all communities involved, the Nunavik Nutrition and Health Committee, and the Nunavut Research Institute. It received ethical approval from the Comité d’éthique de la recherche du CHU de Québec and from McGill University Internal Review Board.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canada Research Chair in Housing, Community, and Health; Assistant Professor, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Université Laval; Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec-Université LavalQuebecCanada
  3. 3.Institut de recherche en santé publique, Université de MontréalMontrealCanada
  4. 4.University of Sydney, University Centre for Rural HealthLismoreAustralia

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