Joanna Sutton-Klein, Alison Moody, Ian Hamilton and Jennifer Mindell
Objective Excess winter deaths are a major public health concern in England and Wales, with an average of 20,000 deaths per year since 2010. Feeling cold at home during winter is associated with reporting poor general health; cold and damp homes have greater prevalence in lower socioeconomic groups. Overheating in the summer also has adverse health consequences. This study evaluates the association between indoor temperature and general health and the extent to which this is affected by socioeconomic and household factors.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Participants: Secondary data of 74,736 individuals living in England that took part in the Health Survey for England (HSE) between 2003 and 2014. The HSE is an annual household survey which uses multilevel stratification to select a new, nationally representative sample each year. The study sample comprised adults who had a nurse visit; the analytical sample was adults who had observations for indoor temperature and self-rated health.
Results: Using both logistic and linear regression models to examine indoor temperature and health status, adjusting for socioeconomic and housing factors, the study found an association between poor health and higher indoor temperatures. Each one degree increase in indoor temperature was associated with a 1.4% (95% CI 0.5% to 2.3%) increase in the odds of poor health. After adjusting for income, education, employment type, household size and home ownership, the OR of poor health for each degree temperature rise increased by 19%, to a 1.7% (95% CI 0.7% to 2.6%) increase in odds of poor health with each degree temperature rise.
Conclusion: People with worse self-reported health had higher indoor temperatures after adjusting for household factors. People with worse health may have chosen to maintain warmer environments or been advised to. However, other latent factors, such as housing type and energy performance could have an effect.
Sutton-Klein, J., Moody, A., Hamilton, I. & Mindell, J.S. 2021. Associations between indoor temperature, self-rated health and socioeconomic position in a cross-sectional study of adults in England. BMJ Open, 11(2): e038500. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038500Opens in a new tab
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