Housing distress may harm mental health

Oct. 20, 2011 at 10:18 PM   |   Comments

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PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- People who have lost homes or are in foreclosure have poorer mental health and more physical symptoms than those with less housing stress, U.S. researchers say.

Senior author Terri Lipman, a nursing professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, said those in financial straits and housing strain might not have access to healthcare professionals.

"Distressed homeowners whose health is impaired may face particular challenges as they attempt to improve their financial situations," Lipman said in a statement. "Medical care and appropriate counseling may be necessary to enable distressed homeowners to seek, obtain and sustain employment."

Lipman and colleagues said the study was based on data from their 2008 Internet survey of nearly 800 residents in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida -- states accounting for 51 percent of all foreclosure filings that year.

The researchers recommend "bundling" services at one site of intervention, such as foreclosure courts or housing counseling agencies.

"Nurses are well-suited to provide screening, counseling, care, and referrals for distressed homeowners whose health is impaired," Lipman said in a statement. "The unprecedented volume of mortgage defaults and foreclosures represents an important and under-recognized population health issue."

Healthcare access may be limited for distressed homeowners, who may benefit from health screenings and referral to coordinated, affordable health services -- in addition to financial counseling and social services -- the study noted.

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