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Impacts of exposure to ambient temperature on burden of disease: a systematic review of epidemiological evidence

  • Jian Cheng
  • Zhiwei Xu
  • Hilary Bambrick
  • Hong Su
  • Shilu Tong
  • Wenbiao HuEmail author
Review Paper

Abstract

Ambient temperature is an important determinant of mortality and morbidity, making it necessary to assess temperature-related burden of disease (BD) for the planning of public health policies and adaptive responses. To systematically review existing epidemiological evidence on temperature-related BD, we searched three databases (PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus) on 1 September 2018. We identified 97 studies from 56 counties for this review, of which 75 reported the fraction or number of health outcomes (include deaths and diseases) attributable to temperature, and 22 reported disability-adjusted life years (include years of life lost and years lost due to disability) related to temperature. Non-optimum temperatures (i.e., heat and cold) were responsible for > 2.5% of mortality in all included high-income countries/regions, and > 3.0% of mortality in all included middle-income countries. Cold was mostly reported to be the primary source of mortality burden from non-optimum temperatures, but the relative role of three different temperature exposures (i.e., heat, cold, and temperature variability) in affecting morbidity and mortality remains unclear so far. Under the warming climate scenario, almost all projections assuming no population adaptation suggested future increase in heat-related but decrease in cold-related BD. However, some studies emphasized the great uncertainty in future pattern of temperature-related BD, largely depending on the scenarios of climate, population adaptation, and demography. We also identified important discrepancies and limitations in current research methodologies employed to measure temperature exposures and model temperature-health relationship, and calculate the past and project future temperature-related BD. Overall, exposure to non-optimum ambient temperatures has become and will continue to be a considerable contributor to the global and national BD, but future research is still needed to develop a stronger methodological framework for assessing and comparing temperature-related BD across different settings.

Keywords

Temperature Disease burden Attributable risk DALY 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Jian Cheng was supported by the China Scholarship Council Postgraduate Scholarship and the Queensland University of Technology Higher Degree Research Tuition Fee Sponsorship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

484_2019_1716_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 2151 kb)

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian Cheng
    • 1
  • Zhiwei Xu
    • 1
  • Hilary Bambrick
    • 1
  • Hong Su
    • 2
  • Shilu Tong
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Wenbiao Hu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Public Health and Social Work, Institute of Health and Biomedical InnovationQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public HealthAnhui Medical UniversityHefeiChina
  3. 3.Shanghai Children’s Medical CentreShanghai Jiao-Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.School of Public Health, Institute of Environment and Human HealthAnhui Medical UniversityHefeiChina
  5. 5.School of Public Health and Social WorkQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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