Double jeopardy: assessing the association between internal displacement, housing quality and chronic illness in a low-income neighborhood

Z Gesundh Wiss. 2011 Apr;19(2):171-182. doi: 10.1007/s10389-010-0368-0. Epub 2010 Nov 6.


PURPOSE: This study analyzed associations between war-related internal displacement, housing quality and the prevalence of chronic illness in Nabaa, a low-income neighborhood on the outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of sociodemographics, household characteristics and health conditions of the study population was carried out in 2002. Using a structured questionnaire, the research team surveyed 1,151 households representing 4,987 residents of all ages. The survey was administered to a proxy respondent from each household in face-to-face interviews. A multiple logistic regression model using the generalized estimation equation method was constructed to assess the simultaneous effect of displacement and housing quality on reported ill health, while adjusting for potential confounders. RESULTS: Housing quality and internal displacement were strongly associated with occurrences of chronic illness. The most vulnerable respondents were older residents, females and internally displaced people, who reported high rates of chronic illnesses. Residents with high levels of education were less likely to report a chronic illness than those that had elementary education or less. CONCLUSION: Nabaa residents' experience of poor health was associated with inadequate housing quality. Moreover, residents who have been displaced experience worse living conditions and were more likely to experience poor health than those who were not displaced. These results reveal a need for policies to improve housing quality and alleviate war-related consequences in low-income neighborhoods.