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Exploring the efficacy of housing alternatives for adults with an acquired brain or spinal injury: A systematic review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2019

Courtney J. Wright
The Hopkins Centre, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, QLD 4131, Australia
Jacinta Colley
The Hopkins Centre, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, QLD 4131, Australia
Elizabeth Kendall
The Hopkins Centre, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, QLD 4131, Australia



Housing for people with acquired brain injury (ABI) or spinal cord injury (SCI) remains a significant issue in Australia and internationally. This review examined the current research evidence regarding the efficacy of housing alternatives for adults with ABI or SCI in relation to four principal outcomes of interest: the person’s (1) community integration/participation, (2) independence, (3) psychosocial well-being and (4) quality of life. The review also sought to identify how the reported efficacy of the housing alternatives might be impacted by individual factors.


For this systematic review, quantitative empirical, peer-reviewed research published after 1 January 2003 was sought. Ten journal articles met the eligibility criteria. None of the included studies comprised an adult SCI sample.


The research identified lower levels of community integration/participation, independence, psychosocial well-being and quality of life for adults (particularly younger adults) with ABI living in ‘structured settings’ (i.e., residential care) compared to those living in ‘home-like’ environments (i.e., private homes) and ‘disability-specific’ settings (i.e., shared supported accommodation, group homes, foster care homes, cluster units).


More research is needed to compare ‘home-like’ and ‘disability-specific’ settings, and individual housing models more generally (i.e., living at home with friends vs with family vs living in shared supported accommodation vs living in residential care). This review identified a number of limitations in the current evidence base and several important directions for future research. Policymakers, architects, designers, builders, developers, funding agencies, international researchers as well as people with ABI or SCI and their families may benefit from the findings of this review.

Review Article
© Australasian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment 2019

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