Effects of changes in living environment on physical health: a prospective German cohort study of non-movers

B. Aretz, G. Doblhammer, F. Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Background
Longitudinal studies on associations between changes in living environment and health are few and focus on movers. Next to causal effects, differences in health can, however, result due to residential mobility. The present study explored changes in living environment related to (changes in) physical health among non-movers. Causality was reinforced by a novel study design.

Methods
We obtained longitudinal data on both living environment and physical health covering 4601 non-movers aged 18+ with 16 076 health observations from the German Socio-Economic Panel between 1999 and 2014. Changing and stable perceived living environment from three domains (infrastructure, environmental pollution, housing conditions) were included at household level. We performed linear regressions with robust standard errors and generalized estimating equations to predict the physical component summary (PCS) at baseline and changes in PCS over time.

Results
Stable moderate and worst as well as worsened environmental pollution and infrastructure were associated with worse PCS at baseline, as were stable poor and worsened housing conditions. Stable worst infrastructure was associated with negative changes in PCS for both sexes. Men’s changes in PCS were more affected by worsened environmental pollution than women’s.

Conclusion
A suboptimal living environment has short- and long-term negative effects on physical health. Because even short-term changes in the living environment have an immediate influence on an individual’s health status and health trajectories, public attention to living environment is essential to fight existing health inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147–1153
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Volume29
Issue number6
Early online date18 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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