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Risk factors for deaths during the 2009 heat wave in Adelaide, Australia: a matched case-control study

Zhang, Ying, Nitschke, Monika, Krackowizer, Antoinette, Dear, Keith, Pisaniello, Dino, Weinstein, Philip, Tucker, Graeme, Shakib, Sepehr, Bi, Peng
International journal of biometeorology 2017 v.61 no.1 pp. 35-47
air conditioning, behavior change, bioclimatology, case-control studies, death, gender, health status, heart diseases, heat, interviews, issues and policy, mortality, people, protective effect, regression analysis, risk factors, social support, Australia
The extreme heat wave in Australia in 2009 resulted in significantly increased number of daily deaths. The circumstances that lead to deaths during extreme heat have not been explored before in Australia. This study aims to identify the individual and community risk factors for deaths during this extreme heat wave in Adelaide. A matched case-control study was conducted. Cases were those who died in the Adelaide metropolitan area during the heat wave period. For each case, two community controls were randomly selected, matched by age and gender. Face-to-face or telephone interviews were conducted to collect data of demographic information, living environment, social support, health status and behavioural changes during the heat wave. Descriptive analysis, as well as simple and multiple conditional logistic regressions were performed. In total, 82 deaths and 164 matched community controls were included in the analysis, with a median age of 77.5 (range 26.6–100.7). The multiple logistic regression model indicated that, compared with controls, the risk of death during the heat wave was significantly increased for people living alone (AOR = 42.31, 95 % CI 2.3, 792.8) or having existing chronic heart disease (AOR = 22.4, 95 % CI 1.7, 303.0). In addition, having air conditioning in bedrooms (AOR = 0.004, 95 % CI 0.00006, 0.28) and participating in social activities more than once a week (AOR = 0.011, 95 % CI 0.0004, 0.29) indicated significant protective effects. We have identified factors that could significantly impact on the likelihood of deaths during heat waves. Our findings could assist in the development of future intervention programs and policies to reduce mortality associated with a warmer climate.