A growing number of studies have investigated the effect of increasing temperatures on morbidity and health service use. However, there is a lack of studies investigating the temperature-attributable cost burden.
This study examines the relationship of daily mean temperature with hospital admissions, length of hospital stay (LoS), and costs; and estimates the baseline temperature-attributable hospital admissions, and costs and in relation to warmer climate scenarios in Adelaide, South Australia.
A daily time series analysis using distributed lag non-linear models (DLNM) was used to explore exposure-response relationships and to estimate the aggregated burden of hospital admissions for conditions associated with temperatures (i.e. renal diseases, mental health, diabetes, ischaemic heart diseases and heat-related illnesses) as well as the associated LoS and costs, for the baseline period (2010-2015) and different future climate scenarios in Adelaide, South Australia.
During the six-year baseline period, the overall temperature-attributable hospital admissions, LoS, and associated costs were estimated to be 3915 cases (95% empirical confidence interval (eCI): 235, 7295), 99,766 days (95% eCI: 14,484, 168,457), and AU$159 million (95% eCI: 18.8, 269.0), respectively. A climate scenario consistent with RCP8.5 emissions, and including projected demographic change, is estimated to lead to increases in heat-attributable hospital admissions, LoS, and costs of 2.2% (95% eCI: 0.5, 3.9), 8.4% (95% eCI: 1.1, 14.3), and 7.7% (95% eCI: 0.3, 13.3), respectively by mid-century.
There is already a substantial temperature-attributable impact on hospital admissions, LoS, and costs which are estimated to increase due to climate change and an increasing aged population. Unless effective climate and public health interventions are put into action, the costs of treating temperature-related admissions will be high.