The use of a quasi-experimental study on the mortality effect of a heat wave warning system in Korea.
Heo S, Nori-Sarma A, Lee K, Benmarhnia T, Dominici F, Bell ML. The use of a quasi-experimental study on the mortality effect of a heat wave warning system in Korea. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2019;16(12):2245.
Many cities and countries have implemented heat wave warning systems to combat the health effects of extreme heat. Little is known about whether these systems actually reduce heat-related morbidity and mortality. We examined the effectiveness of heat wave alerts and health plans in reducing the mortality risk of heat waves in Korea by utilizing the discrepancy between the alerts and the monitored temperature. A difference-in-differences analysis combined with propensity score weighting was used. Mortality, weather monitoring, and heat wave alert announcement data were collected for 7 major cities during 2009–2014. Results showed evidence of risk reduction among people aged 19–64 without education (−0.144 deaths/1,000,000 people, 95% CI: −0.227, −0.061) and children aged 0–19 (−0.555 deaths/1,000,000 people, 95% CI: −0.993, −0.117). Decreased cardiovascular and respiratory mortality was found in several subgroups including single persons, widowed people, blue-collar workers, people with no education or the highest level of education (university or higher). No evidence was found for decreased all-cause mortality in the population (1.687 deaths/1,000,000 people per day; 95% CI: 1.118, 2.255). In conclusion, heat wave alerts may reduce mortality for several causes and subpopulations of age and socio-economic status. Further work needs to examine the pathways through which the alerts impact subpopulations differently.