Evaluating the effectiveness of heat warning systems: systematic review of epidemiological evidence

Toloo, Ghasem, Fitzgerald, Gerald, Aitken, Peter, Verrall, Kenneth, and Tong, Shilu (2013) Evaluating the effectiveness of heat warning systems: systematic review of epidemiological evidence. International Journal of Public Health, 58 (5). pp. 667-681.

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Abstract

Objectives: To review the existing research on the effectiveness of heat warning systems (HWSs) in saving lives and reducing harm.

Methods: A systematic search of major databases was conducted, using "heat, heatwave, high temperature, hot temperature, OR hot climate" AND "warning system".

Results: Fifteen articles were retrieved. Six studies asserted that fewer people died of excessive heat after HWS implementation. HWS was associated with reduction in ambulance use. One study estimated the benefits of HWS to be 468millionforsaving117livescomparedto210,000 costs of running the system. Eight studies showed that mere availability of HWS did not lead to behavioral changes. Perceived threat of heat dangers to self/others was the main factor related to heeding warnings and taking proper actions. However, costs and barriers associated with taking protective actions, such as costs of running air conditioners, were of significant concern particularly to the poor.

Conclusions: Research in this area is limited. Prospective designs applying health behavior theories should establish whether HWS can produce the health benefits they are purported to achieve by identifying the target vulnerable groups.

Item ID: 31428
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1661-8556
Keywords: heat warning system; effectiveness; mortality; morbidity; health beliefs; health service utilization
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Queensland Department of Environment and Resources Management, Queensland Health and the Environmental Protection Agency, Noel Stevenson Fellowship, Queensland Emergency Medicine Research Foundation (QEMRF), NHMRC research fellowship
Projects and Grants: ARC Linkage grant (LP882699), NHMRC (#553043)
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2014 02:00
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111705 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111716 Preventive Medicine @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response @ 100%
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