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Research into the relationship between housing and health has frequently been narrowly focused, fragmented, and of marginal practical relevance to either housing or health studies. Population health research, in its reference to the importance of the social and physical environment, rarely mentions housing. While it has been recognized for some time that there is a need for the development of a co-ordinated, integrated and cumulative body of housing and health research, there is still very little formal co-ordination between housing policy and population health policy. More attention needs to be paid to measuring the nature and extent to which better housing might improve population health. This is not an easy task. Because of the lack of a general theory of the mechanisms by which housing affects population health, serious methodological difficulties are associated with multidisciplinary research on the topic. The ways in which housing research may advance our understanding of public health include: illuminating the environmental precursors of disease; exposing the mechanisms which “sort” households according to health status into different parts of the housing stock, affecting access to the wide range of employment opportunities, services, and resources that are also unevenly distributed in space; and exploring the interface of housing provision and health care policies. Another practical role for research linking housing conditions and health status is to inform revisions of building codes, municipal bylaws (housing standards, development regulations, etc.), and public and environmental health regulations.

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