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Benmarhnia, T, Bailey Z, Kaiser D, Auger N, King N, Kaufman JS.  2016.  A Difference-in-Differences Approach to Assess the Effect of a Heat Action Plan on Heat-Related Mortality, and Differences in Effectiveness According to Sex, Age, and Socioeconomic Status (Montreal, Quebec). Environmental Health Perspectives. 124:1694-1699.   10.1289/EHP203   AbstractWebsite

BACKGROUND: The impact of heat waves on mortality and health inequalities is well documented. Very few studies have assessed the effectiveness of heat action plans (HAPs) on health, and none has used quasi-experimental methods to estimate causal effects of such programs.OBJECTIVES: We developed a quasi-experimental method to estimate the causal effects associated with HAPs that allows the identification of heterogeneity across subpopulations, and to apply this method specifically to the case of the Montreal (Quebec, Canada) HAP.METHODS: A difference-in-differences approach was undertaken using Montreal death registry data for the summers of 2000-2007 to assess the effectiveness of the Montreal HAP, implemented in 2004, on mortality. To study equity in the effect of HAP implementation, we assessed whether the program effects were heterogeneous across sex (male vs. female), age (>= 65 years vs. < 65 years), and neighborhood education levels (first vs. third tertile). We conducted sensitivity analyses to assess the validity of the estimated causal effect of the HAP program.RESULTS: We found evidence that the HAP contributed to reducing mortality on hot days, and that the mortality reduction attributable to the program was greater for elderly people and people living in low-education neighborhoods.CONCLUSION: These findings show promise for programs aimed at reducing the impact of extreme temperatures and health inequities. We propose a new quasi-experimental approach that can be easily applied to evaluate the impact of any program or intervention triggered when daily thresholds are reached.

Benmarhnia, T, Deguen S, Kaufman JS, Smargiassi A.  2015.  Vulnerability to heat-related mortality a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression analysis. Epidemiology. 26:781-793.   10.1097/EDE.0000000000000375   AbstractWebsite

Background: Addressing vulnerability to heat-related mortality is a necessary step in the development of policies dictated by heat action plans. We aimed to provide a systematic assessment of the epidemiologic evidence regarding vulnerability to heat-related mortality.Methods: Studies assessing the association between high ambient temperature or heat waves and mortality among different subgroups and published between January 1980 and August 2014 were selected. Estimates of association for all the included subgroups were extracted. We assessed the presence of heterogeneous effects between subgroups conducting Cochran Q tests. We conducted random effect meta-analyses of ratios of relative risks (RRR) for high ambient temperature studies. We performed random effects meta-regression analyses to investigate factors associated with the magnitude of the RRR.Results: Sixty-one studies were included. Using the Cochran Q test, we consistently found evidence of vulnerability for the elderly ages >85 years. We found a pooled RRR of 0.99 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.97, 1.01) for male sex, 1.02 (95% CI = 1.01, 1.03) for age >65 years, 1.04 (95% CI = 1.02, 1.07) for ages >75 years, 1.03 (95% CI = 1.01, 1.05) for low individual socioeconomic status (SES), and 1.01 (95% CI = 0.99, 1.02) for low ecologic SES.Conclusions: We found strongest evidence of heat-related vulnerability for the elderly ages >65 and >75 years and low SES groups (at the individual level). Studies are needed to clarify if other subgroups (e.g., children, people living alone) are also vulnerable to heat to inform public health programs.