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Becoming unable to afford adequate home heating is associated with increased risk of severe mental distress
  1. Kimberley C O'Sullivan
  1. Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kimberley C O'Sullivan, He Kāinga Oranga / Housing and Health Research Programme, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand; kimberley.osullivan{at}

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Commentary on: Clair A, Baker E. Cold homes and mental health harm: Evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Soc Sci Med. 2022 Dec;314:115461. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115461. Epub 2022 Oct 22 .

Implications for practice and research

  • Supporting people to live in warm housing during a period of increasing living and energy costs in many countries will avoid social, economic and mental health harm.

  • Further research to understand the pathways between cold housing and increased mental health distress is needed.


Cold housing, driven by poor housing quality and energy poverty, is a significant public health issue in many countries.1 2 Cold housing is known to contribute to many negative physiological health outcomes including: increased risk of cardiovascular events, stroke and myocardial infarction; increased negative effects from chronic and acute respiratory disease; increased colds and influenza; …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.