Bristol study links private rented accommodation with increased stress


By Laura Reid, University Management Correspondent

A new study led by researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Essex has indicated a link between people living in the private rental sector and higher levels of a stress hormone.

The study used C-reactive protein (CRP), a chemical in the body related to stress and inflammation, to measure the effects of housing on health. Blood samples were taken from 9,593 adults and their CRP levels were then measured.

Around one in five, or just over 22 per cent, of participants had a CRP level above 3 mg/l. This raised level has been associated with cardiovascular disease.

Moreover, the study revealed that renters in the private sector had significantly higher levels of the stress hormone than home owners with a mortgage.

Dr Amanda Hughes, Senior Research Associate in Epidemiology, Bristol Medical School (PHS) said:

‘A lack of affordable, good quality housing in many parts of the UK is recognised as a serious problem. However, implications for health are rarely considered. These results underscore the links between the two, and the need for health to be a consideration in housing policy.’

Bristol halls of residence have been ranked as some of the most expensive outside of London.

Several halls can cost students between £7000 and £8000 a year, such as a standard catered room in Badock costing £7497 per annum.

Even the cheaper halls often cost above the basic maintenance loan of £4,054, meaning that students can be left funding accommodation themselves and with little money to live on at University.

Simon Bray, Director of Residential and Hospitality Services at the University of Bristol, has said: 'To help with this (financial management), we have increased the number of accommodation bursaries available, with £200,000 available for the 2018/19 year, in addition to the range of financial packages available to support students from low-income households.'

'There are also 400 rooms which are capped at a lower level ‘value’ rent. We ask students about the size of their budget when they apply for accommodation and last year 95 per cent of people were offered places within these budget limits.'

Whilst the study focused on those over 21, the link between cost and quality of housing and increased stress fuels the conversation surrounding student accommodation.

Featured Image: University of Bristol

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