Health, Health Behaviors, and Health Care Utilization Among Adults with Serious Psychological Distress Who Receive Federal Housing Assistance

  • Debra L. BruckerEmail author
  • Veronica Helms


Using newly available U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administrative data linked with National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data, this study estimates the prevalence of serious psychological distress (SPD) among non-elderly HUD-assisted adults and examines differences in health, health behaviors, and health care utilization for this population. The linked data estimate that 13% of HUD-assisted adults experience SPD. Controlling for individual characteristics and HUD program type, assisted housing residents who had SPD experienced higher rates of self-reported fair or poor health, chronic disease, and cigarette smoking than HUD-assisted adults without SPD. Adults with SPD had more frequent use of emergency rooms and were more likely than residents without SPD to have more frequent contact with specialists, general doctors, and mental health providers, although they also reported increased levels of unmet health care needs due to affordability. Policy implications are discussed.



A portion of the work on this project was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, under cooperative agreements H133B130015 and 90RTGE00010100. The findings and conclusions are those of the authors and do not represent the opinion or the policies of either DHHS or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The authors retain sole responsibility for any errors or omissions.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute on DisabilityUniversity of New HampsireDurhamU.S.A.
  2. 2.Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy HomesU.S. Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentWashingtonU.S.A.
  3. 3.Bloomberg School of Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreU.S.A.

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