We sought to characterize and to evaluate the success of current public health interventions related to housing. Two reviewers content-analyzed 72 articles selected from 12 electronic databases of US interventions from 1990 to 2001. Ninety-two percent of the interventions addressed a single condition, most often lead poisoning, injury, or asthma. Fifty-seven percent targeted children, and 13% targeted seniors. The most common intervention strategies employed a one-time treatment to improve the environment; to change behavior, attitudes, or knowledge; or both. Most studies reported statistically significant improvements, but few (14%) were judged extremely successful. Current interventions are limited by narrow definitions of housing and health, by brief time spans, and by limited geographic and social scales. An ecological paradigm is recommended as a guide to more effective approaches.
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