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Temperature and humidity effects on hospital morbidity in Darwin, Australia

Looking for a more visual primer on this? Here’s a presentation I gave on it. This is an open access article; the full text is here.

Abstract

Many studies have explored the relationship between temperature and health in the context of a changing climate, but few have considered the impact of humidity, particularly in tropical locations, on human health and well-being. To investigate this potential relationship, this paper assesses the main and interacting effects of daily temperature and humidity on hospital admission rates for selected heat-relevant diagnoses in Darwin, Australia. Univariate and bivariate Poisson Generalized Linear Models were used to find statistically significant predictors and the admission rates within bins of predictors were compared to explore non-linear effects. The analysis indicated that nighttime humidity is the most statistically significant predictor (p < 0.001), followed by daytime temperature and average daily humidity (p < 0.05). There is no evidence of a significant interaction between them or other predictors. The nighttime humidity effect appears to be strongly non-linear: hot days appear to have higher admission rates when they are preceded by high nighttime humidity. From this analysis we suggest that heat-health policies in tropical regions similar to Darwin need to accommodate the effects of temperature and humidity at different times of day.

James Goldie

PhD student (climate change + health). I also code and build things for fun and for social change.

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