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Impact of high ambient temperature on unintentional injuries in high-income countries: a narrative systematic literature review
  1. Eveline Otte im Kampe,
  2. Sari Kovats,
  3. Shakoor Hajat
  1. Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Eveline Otte im Kampe; Eveline.otteimkampe{at}


Objectives Given the likelihood of increased hot weather due to climate change, it is crucial to have prevention measures in place to reduce the health burden of high temperatures and heat waves. The aim of this review is to summarise and evaluate the evidence on the effects of summertime weather on unintentional injuries in high-income countries.

Design 3 databases (Global Public Health, EMBASE and MEDLINE) were searched by using related keywords and their truncations in the title and abstract, and reference lists of key studies were scanned. Studies reporting heatstroke and intentional injuries were excluded.

Results 13 studies met our inclusion criteria. 11 out of 13 studies showed that the risk of unintentional injuries increases with increasing ambient temperatures. On days with moderate temperatures, the increased risk varied between 0.4% and 5.3% for each 1°C increase in ambient temperature. On extreme temperature days, the risk of injuries decreased. 2 out of 3 studies on occupational accidents found an increase in work-related accidents during high temperatures. For trauma hospital admissions, 6 studies reported an increase during hot weather, whereas 1 study found no association. The evidence for impacts on injuries by subgroups such as children, the elderly and drug users was limited and inconsistent.

Conclusions The present review describes a broader range of types of unintentional fatal and non-fatal injuries (occupational, trauma hospital admissions, traffic, fire entrapments, poisoning and drug overdose) than has previously been reported. Our review confirms that hot weather can increase the risk of unintentional injuries and accidents in high-income countries. The results are useful for injury prevention strategies.

  • injuries
  • hot weather
  • high income countries
  • review

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