Subsidized housing not subsidized health: health status and fatigue among elders in public housing and other community settings

Ethn Dis. 2011 Winter;21(1):85-90.


Objectives: To estimate trends in the prevalence of fatigue among elders living in public housing or in the community; to compare health status of elders living in public housing to their community-dwelling counterparts.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Community-dwelling elders who reported ever residing in public housing were compared to those living in other community settings.

Participants: Participants of the Health and Retirement Study (seven waves of interviews conducted from 1995 through 2006) interviewed in 2006 with complete data on housing status, self-report measures of health status and measures of functioning (n = 16,191).

Measurements: Self-reported fatigue, functioning, and other health conditions. We also evaluated four functional indices: overall mobility, large muscle functioning, gross motor functioning, and fine motor functioning.

Results: Those reporting having lived in public housing were twice as likely to rate their health as fair or poor relative to those with no public housing experience (57.3% vs 26.9%, respectively). Cardiac conditions, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and psychiatric problems were all more prevalent in those living in public housing relative to community-dwelling elders not living in public housing. Fatigue was more prevalent in persons residing in public housing (26.7%) as compared to other community-dwelling elders (17.8%).

Conclusion: The health status of persons residing in public housing is poor. Fatigue and comorbid conditions are highly prevalent and more common in those living in public housing. Developing care models that meet the needs of this oft-neglected population is warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poverty*
  • Prevalence
  • Public Housing*
  • United States / epidemiology