Evaluation of an Australian Indigenous housing programme: community level impact on crowding, infrastructure function and hygiene

Ross Stewart Bailie, Elizabeth McDonald, Matthew Stevens, Steve Guthridge, David Brewster

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Background and Aim: Housing programmes in indigenous Australian communities have focused largely on achieving good standards of infrastructure function. The impact of this approach was assessed on three potentially important housing-related influences on child health at the community level: (1) crowding, (2) the functional state of the house infrastructure and (3) the hygienic condition of the houses.

    Methods: A before-and-after study, including house infrastructure surveys and structured interviews with the main householder, was conducted in all homes of young children in 10 remote Australian indigenous communities.

    Results: Compared with baseline, follow-up surveys showed (1) a small non-significant decrease in the mean number of people per bedroom in the house on the night before the survey (3.4, 95% CI 3.1 to 3.6 at baseline vs 3.2, 95% CI 2.9 to 3.4 at follow-up; natural logarithm transformed t test, t=1.3, p=0.102); (2) a marginally significant overall improvement in infrastructure function scores (KruskaleWallis test, ?2=3.9, p=0.047); and (3) no clear overall improvement in hygiene (KruskaleWallis test, ?2=0.3, p=0.605).

    Conclusion: Housing programmes of this scale that focus on the provision of infrastructure alone appear unlikely to lead to more hygienic general living environments, at least in this study context. A broader ecological approach to housing programmes delivered in these communities is needed if potential health benefits are to be maximised. This ecological approach would require a balanced programme of improving access to health hardware, hygiene promotion and creating a broader enabling environment in communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)432-437
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
    Volume65
    Issue number5
    Early online date17 May 2010
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011

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