There are currently millions of displaced people encamped in low-quality shelters that jeopardise the health of these displaced populations. These shelters, which exhibit poor thermal regulation and air quality, are often inhabited by households for several years. Recently, the internal environment of shelters has been recognised as a determinant of the health of the occupants and the indoor air quality (IAQ) and internal temperatures have been identified as criti- cal factors affecting occupants’ health. Attempts by researchers and private companies to develop healthier shelter solutions have mainly prioritised factors such as rapid deployment, transportability and sustainability. Via a systematic bibliometric analysis of the existing literature, this review examines the impact of shelters’ internal environment on occupant health. Self-reports and building simulation are the most common methodologies reported in the litera- ture, but there is a disconnect between the reported shelter issues and their impact on health. This is likely due to the multifaceted and site-specific factors analysed. Indoor air quality, thermal comfort and overcrowding are the most commonly identified shelter issues, which are strongly related to the presence of infectious and airborne diseases. An analysis of the available literature indicates that there is still a lack of clear guidance linking shelter quality to health. Moreover, evidence of the impact of shelters on health is harder to find, and there is a gap regarding the metrics and the methodology used to evaluate shelter quality. Therefore, further research is necessary to provide evidence of the impact of shelter design on health through transdisciplinary approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International Humanitarian Action
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding: not UKRI funded.


  • Shelter
  • Health
  • Bibliometric Analysis
  • Air Quality
  • Thermal Comfort


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