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Untitled Document
Residential Context of Health

Created in 1998


Emma Baker
School of Architecture and Built Environment
University of Adelaide
Adelaide, Australia
Tel. +61 8 831 348 51
Terry Hartig
Institute for Housing and Urban Research
Uppsala University
Uppsala, Sweden
Tel: +46-18-471 65 32

Central Theme
The WG was named "Housing and Health" during the period 1998-2000. In connection with the Gävle conference in 2000 the WG changed its name to "The Residential Context of Health." The new name more clearly indicates that the concerns of the WG extend beyond those traditionally addressed in the housing-and-health field, namely, connections between physical health outcomes and physical characteristics of housing. In addition to such connections, the WG also takes interest in the role of psychological, social and cultural factors in shaping relations between the residential context, including housing, and health more broadly conceived.

Recent activities and plans for the coming year
The WG convened the latest in its series of workshops at the ENHR Conference in Tirana, Albania, September 4-6, 2017. Colleagues from Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, and the USA participated in the workshop. Framed around papers reporting new findings and broad conceptual concerns (e.g., with regard to the representation of housing affordability), the workshop enabled extensive and high quality discussion of the residential context of health.
As discussed in Tirana, the WG will convene a similar workshop at the ENHR meeting in Uppsala in 2018.

Activities over the past years
To date, the WG and its predecessor (Housing and Health) have convened workshops in Cardiff (1998), Gävle (2000), Vienna (2002), Cambridge (2004), Reykjavik (2005), Ljubljana (2006), Rotterdam (2007), Dublin (2008), Prague (2009), Istanbul (2010), Lillehammer (2012), Tarragona (2013), Edinburgh (2014), Lisbon (2015), and Belfast (2016). The workshop in Cardiff resulted in a supplement on housing and health for Scandinavian Housing and Planning Research (now Housing, Theory, and Society). The workshop in Gävle resulted in special issues of two journals, Open House International and the Journal of Social Issues. Numerous other papers discussed in the workshops convened by the WG over the years have subsequently been published in reputable journals.

The WG coordinators have worked hard to ensure the successful application of a discussion-intensive workshop format in all of their workshops. With that format, each author has 5-10 minutes to introduce his or her paper, distributed to registered workshop participants in advance of the conference. An assigned discussant then delivers comments on the paper for 10 minutes. Finally, the floor is opened to all participants for an additional 20 minutes or so for discussion of the paper. Workshop attendees have uniformly given positive evaluations of the format and recommended that it be used as well in future workshops.

Attendance at the workshops convened by the WG has varied over the years, from a handful in Cardiff and Lillehammer to over 20 in Gävle and Vienna. Attendance at different workshop sessions at one and the same conference has shown similar variation. Participation in the workshop at the recent Tirana conference was low for the first of the two sessions, but rather more substantial at the second.

Policy Implications
The research contributed to this Working Group is of continued policy importance. The provision of healthy housing and the significance of the roader residential context are increasingly recognized by governments as essential to wider productivity and population health. Recent advances in method, theory and data in this field suggest the importance of pursuing emerging links with other disciplines and fields.

Further Items of Information
Workshop contents sometimes overlap with those addressed in workshops hosted by other WGs, such as Residential Environments and People, so cooperation with those groups could on occasion be advantageous. From the perspectives of the coordinators, however, cooperation would be dependent on the willingness of the other WG to follow the workshop format that has been applied these past many years.