Pacific Islands Families (PIF) Study: housing and psychological distress among Pacific mothers

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In a sample of Pacific mothers living in New Zealand, we examined: 1) maternal reports about seven specific major housing problems (too small, difficult to get to from the street, in poor condition, damp, cold, presence of pests, too expensive); and 2) associations between these housing problems and maternal psychological distress, adjusting for some maternal sociodemographic characteristics.


The Pacific Islands Families longitudinal study follows a cohort of Pacific children born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2000 and their parents. At the 14-year phase, mothers (n=844) were asked about housing conditions and psychological distress.


Mothers who reported having any major housing problem, particularly the presence of pests and poor housing conditions, were significantly more likely to report psychological distress after adjusting for sociodemographic confounders.


The impact of housing on mental health is complex and may be influenced by social, health and sociodemographic characteristics of Pacific mothers.

Implications for public health:

The finding that housing problems are significantly associated with psychological distress among Pacific mothers in New Zealand is an important finding. However, more in-depth qualitative research is needed to provide a clearer understanding of the way housing problems affect mental health and to guide strategies that minimise this outcome for Pacific mothers.

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