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Journal Article


Nitschke M, Tucker G, Hansen A, Williams S, Zhang Y, Bi P. BMJ Open 2016; 6(7): e012125.


School of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


(Copyright © 2016, BMJ Publishing Group)






BACKGROUND: Heatwave warning systems aim to assist in reducing health effects during extreme heat. Evaluations of such systems have been limited. This study explored the effect of a heatwave warning programme on morbidity and mortality in Adelaide, South Australia, by comparing extreme events in 2009 and 2014, the latter with exposure to the preventive programme.

METHODS: The health outcomes during the two heatwaves were compared using the incidence rate ratios (IRRs) of daily ambulance call-outs, emergency presentations and mortality data during the heatwaves compared with non-heatwave periods during the warm seasons. Excess or reduced numbers of cases were calculated and the differences in cases between the two heatwaves were estimated.

RESULTS: IRRs for total ambulance call-outs and emergency presentations were lower during the 2014 heatwaves compared with the 2009 event. The estimated differences in health-specific outcomes between 2009 and 2014 were statistically significant with 207 (59%) for cardiac-related call-outs, 134 (30%) for renal and 145 (56%) for heat-related emergency presentations. Mortality was not reduced in 2014. There were an estimated 34.5 excess deaths in 2009 and 38.2 in 2014.

CONCLUSIONS: Morbidity outcomes were reduced significantly during the 2014 event. The fact that cardiac, renal and heat-related diagnoses were significantly reduced is likely to be associated with the intervention in 2014, which comprised a public warning through media and intense preventive measures directed to individual populations at risk. Further analysis of risk factors of mortality during heatwaves should be explored.

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Language: en


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