NIHCM Newsletter / March 2024

How Housing Impacts Health

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Overview: Garcia C, Doran K, Kushel M. Homelessness And Health: Factors, Evidence, Innovations That Work, And Policy Recommendations. Health Affairs. 2024.

Overdoses: Bradford D, Lozano-Rojas F. Higher Rates Of Homelessness Are Associated With Increases In Mortality From Accidental Drug And Alcohol Poisonings. Health Affairs. 2024.

Pandemic Evictions: Graetz N, Hepburn P, Gershenson C, et al. Examining Excess Mortality Associated With the COVID-19 Pandemic for Renters Threatened With Eviction. JAMA. 2024.

How Housing Impacts Health

Renters who faced eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced excessively high mortality rates compared to other groups, according to a recent study. Additionally, mortality rates are increasing rapidly for people experiencing homelessness, particularly in terms of drug and alcohol-related deaths. Housing impacts health outcomes and can further exacerbate health disparities, particularly as it becomes more expensive amidst America’s housing shortage.

  • Impact on Health: Health Affairs’ Housing and Health issue includes research on a range of issues, including homelessness, gentrification, and the impact of housing on cancer outcomes. The issue also includes strategies to support health through housing, such as through primary care and financial assistance interventions.
  • Medicaid Efforts: New guidance expands the use of Medicaid funds to address social determinants of health, with at least 19 states utilizing Medicaid to support people experiencing homelessness and prevent eviction. The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator will support eight states and Washington, D.C., in efforts towards stable housing.

Resources & Initiatives

Long COVID & Chronic Fatigue

Despite federal investment, understanding of and treatment options for long COVID remain limited. However, researchers have recently gained a better understanding of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME/CFS and its overlapping symptoms with long COVID.

Resources & Initiatives

Chronic Diseases & Disparities

Chronic diseases remain of significant public health concern, particularly due to health disparities and the policies that perpetuate them. These disparities are further compounded by environmental factors. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research highlights links between discriminatory policies, inadequate environmental conditions, and rates of chronic disease.

  • Environmental Exposures: A Harvard study reports chronic exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) may increase hospitalization for seniors with certain cardiovascular conditions. Their findings suggest PM2.5 disproportionately affects people living in neighborhoods with lower high school graduation levels, limited access to health care, and socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods.
  • Race & Health Disparities: Black women with high blood pressure before age 35 may have a 3.1 times higher risk of having a stroke. As diabetic amputations increase, medical experts express concern and push for earlier treatment for Black and Latino patients, who have a higher likelihood of diagnosis.

Resources & Initiatives

Prescription Drugs: Accessibility & Weight-Loss Drugs

The landscape of prescription drugs is continually evolving with continued shortages and trends in use, such those related to weight-loss drugs. The growing popularity of weight-loss drugs also sheds light on their extensive impact.

  • Accessibility: Targeted cyber attacks are creating additional accessibility challenges for patients by disrupting prescription orders. Concurrently, patients with ADHD are expressing frustration as a drug shortage continues to increase the wait times for medication. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating generic drug shortages at hospitals.
  • Expected Impact of Weight-Loss Drugs: A new Pew Research Center survey shows 53% of Americans think Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar drugs are good options to lose weight. Eating disorder experts remain cautious about the impact of these medications and their potential to worsen eating disorder symptoms.
  • Teen Use of Weight-Loss Drugs: There was a notable uptick amongst U.S. teens in the use of Wegovy from 2022 to 2023. Teens are also taking risky non-prescription weight-loss drugs. A JAMA study reveals 1 in 10 teens globally have used ineffective and potentially harmful non-prescribed weight-loss products like diuretics, laxatives, and diet pills.

Resources & Initiatives

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