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      The Regeneración Urbana, Calidad de Vida y Salud - RUCAS project: a Chilean multi-methods study to evaluate the impact of urban regeneration on resident health and wellbeing

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          The available evidence of the health effects of urban regeneration is scarce In Latin America, and there are no studies focused on formal housing that longitudinally evaluate the impact of housing and neighborhood interventions on health. The “ Regeneración Urbana, Calidad de Vida y Salud” (Urban Regeneration, Quality of Life, and Health) or RUCAS project is a longitudinal, multi-method study that will evaluate the impact of an intervention focused on dwellings, built environment and community on the health and wellbeing of the population in two social housing neighborhoods in Chile.


          RUCAS consists of a longitudinal study where inhabitants exposed and unexposed to the intervention will be compared over time within the study neighborhoods (cohorts), capitalizing on interventions as a natural experiment. Researchers have developed a specific conceptual framework and identified potential causal mechanisms. Proximal and more distal intervention effects will be measured with five instruments, implemented pre- and post-interventions between 2018 and 2021: a household survey, an observation tool to evaluate dwelling conditions, hygrochrons for measuring temperature and humidity inside dwellings, systematic observation of recreational areas, and qualitative interviews. Survey baseline data (956 households, 3130 individuals) is presented to describe sociodemographics, housing and health characteristics of both cohorts, noting that neighborhoods studied show worse conditions than the Chilean population.


          RUCAS’ design allows for a comprehensive evaluation of the effects that the intervention could have on various dimensions of health and health determinants. RUCAS will face some challenges, like changes in the intervention process due to adjustments of the master plan, exogenous factors –including COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns– and lost to follow-up. Given the stepped wedge design, that the study capitalizes on within household changes over time, the possibility of adjusting data collection process and complementarity of methods, RUCAS has the flexibility to adapt to these circumstances. Also, RUCAS’ outreach and retention strategy has led to high retention rates. RUCAS will provide evidence to inform regeneration processes, highlighting the need to consider potential health effects of regeneration in designing such interventions and, more broadly, health as a key priority in urban and housing policies.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s12889-021-10739-3.

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          Most cited references 49

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          The Patient Health Questionnaire-2: validity of a two-item depression screener.

          A number of self-administered questionnaires are available for assessing depression severity, including the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire depression module (PHQ-9). Because even briefer measures might be desirable for use in busy clinical settings or as part of comprehensive health questionnaires, we evaluated a 2-item version of the PHQ depression module, the PHQ-2. The PHQ-2 inquires about the frequency of depressed mood and anhedonia over the past 2 weeks, scoring each as 0 ("not at all") to 3 ("nearly every day"). The PHQ-2 was completed by 6000 patients in 8 primary care clinics and 7 obstetrics-gynecology clinics. Construct validity was assessed using the 20-item Short-Form General Health Survey, self-reported sick days and clinic visits, and symptom-related difficulty. Criterion validity was assessed against an independent structured mental health professional (MHP) interview in a sample of 580 patients. As PHQ-2 depression severity increased from 0 to 6, there was a substantial decrease in functional status on all 6 SF-20 subscales. Also, symptom-related difficulty, sick days, and healthcare utilization increased. Using the MHP reinterview as the criterion standard, a PHQ-2 score > or =3 had a sensitivity of 83% and a specificity of 92% for major depression. Likelihood ratio and receiver operator characteristic analysis identified a PHQ-2 score of 3 as the optimal cutpoint for screening purposes. Results were similar in the primary care and obstetrics-gynecology samples. The construct and criterion validity of the PHQ-2 make it an attractive measure for depression screening.
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            Social capital and self-rated health: a contextual analysis.

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              Effect of insulating existing houses on health inequality: cluster randomised study in the community.

              To determine whether insulating existing houses increases indoor temperatures and improves occupants' health and wellbeing. Community based, cluster, single blinded randomised study. Seven low income communities in New Zealand. 1350 households containing 4407 participants. Installation of a standard retrofit insulation package. Indoor temperature and relative humidity, energy consumption, self reported health, wheezing, days off school and work, visits to general practitioners, and admissions to hospital. Insulation was associated with a small increase in bedroom temperatures during the winter (0.5 degrees C) and decreased relative humidity (-2.3%), despite energy consumption in insulated houses being 81% of that in uninsulated houses. Bedroom temperatures were below 10 degrees C for 1.7 fewer hours each day in insulated homes than in uninsulated ones. These changes were associated with reduced odds in the insulated homes of fair or poor self rated health (adjusted odds ratio 0.50, 95% confidence interval 0.38 to 0.68), self reports of wheezing in the past three months (0.57, 0.47 to 0.70), self reports of children taking a day off school (0.49, 0.31 to 0.80), and self reports of adults taking a day off work (0.62, 0.46 to 0.83). Visits to general practitioners were less often reported by occupants of insulated homes (0.73, 0.62 to 0.87). Hospital admissions for respiratory conditions were also reduced (0.53, 0.22 to 1.29), but this reduction was not statistically significant (P=0.16). Insulating existing houses led to a significantly warmer, drier indoor environment and resulted in improved self rated health, self reported wheezing, days off school and work, and visits to general practitioners as well as a trend for fewer hospital admissions for respiratory conditions.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                15 April 2021
                15 April 2021
                : 21
                [1 ]GRID grid.7870.8, ISNI 0000 0001 2157 0406, Department of Public Health, , Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, ; Diagonal Paraguay 362, 8330077 Santiago, Chile
                [2 ]GRID grid.7870.8, ISNI 0000 0001 2157 0406, Institute of Geography, , Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, ; Vicuña Mackenna 4860, 7820436 Santiago, Chile
                [3 ]Centre for Sustainable Urban Development (CEDEUS), Los Navegantes 1963, 7520246 Santiago, Chile
                [4 ]GRID grid.412163.3, ISNI 0000 0001 2287 9552, Department of Physical Education, Sports and Recreation, , Universidad de La Frontera, ; Moneda 673, 8320216 Santiago, Chile
                [5 ]GRID grid.166341.7, ISNI 0000 0001 2181 3113, Urban Health Collaborative, Dornsife School of Public Health, , Drexel University, ; 3215 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100004440, Wellcome Trust;
                Award ID: 205177/Z/16/Z
                Funded by: Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo
                Award ID: COVID1032
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                © The Author(s) 2021


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