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Association between income levels and prevalence of heat- and cold-related illnesses in Korean adults

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Issue Date
2021-06-29
Publisher
BMC
Citation
BMC Public Health. 2021 Jun 29;21(1):1264
Keywords
Heat waveCold spellClimate changeIllnessesThermoregulation
Abstract
Background
Given that low income worsens health outcomes, income differences may affect health disparities in weather-related illnesses. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between income levels and prevalence of heat- and cold-related illnesses among Korean adults.

Methods
The current study comprised 535,186 participants with all variables on income and health behaviors. Patients with temperature-related illnesses were defined as individuals with outpatient medical code of heat- and cold-related illnesses. We categorized individual income into three levels: low for the fourth quartile (0–25%), middle for the second and the third quartiles (25–75%), and high for the first quartile (75–100%). To examine income-related health disparities, Cox proportional hazard regression was performed. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CI (confidence interval) for heat- and cold-related illnesses were provided. The model adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, alcohol drinking, exercise, body mass index, hypertension, hyperglycemia, and local income per capita.

Results
A total of 5066 (0.95%) and 3302 (0.62%) cases identified patients with heat- and cold-related illnesses, respectively. Compared with high income patients, the adjusted HR for heat-related illnesses was significantly increased in the low income (adjusted HR = 1.103; 95% CI: 1.022–1.191). For cold-related illnesses, participants with low income were likely to have 1.217 times greater likelihood than those with high income (95% CI: 1.107–1.338), after adjusting for other covariates. In the stratified analysis of age (20–64 years and over 65 years) and sex, there was no difference in the likelihood of heat-related illnesses according to income levels. On the other hand, an HR for cold-related illnesses was higher in patients aged 20 to 64 years than in those aged over 65 years. Male with low income had also a higher HR for cold-related illnesses than female with low income.

Conclusions
Our results showed that heat- or cold-related illnesses were more prevalent in Koreans with low income than those with high income. Strategies for low-income subgroups were needed to reduce greater damage due to the influence of extreme temperature events and to implement effective adaptation.
ISSN
1471-2458
Language
English
URI
https://hdl.handle.net/10371/174801
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11227-4
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College of Medicine/School of Medicine (의과대학/대학원)Preventive Medicine (예방의학전공)Journal Papers (저널논문_예방의학전공)
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