Risk factors, health effects and Behaviour in older people during extreme heat: A survey in South Australia

Monika Nitschke, Alana Hansen, Peng Bi, Dino Pisaniello, Jonathan Newbury, Alison Kitson, Graeme Tucker, Jodie Avery, Eleonora Grande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Older people had a high incidence of hospitalisation during the 2009 heat wave in South Australia. We sought to explore resilience, behaviours, health risk factors and health outcomes during recent heat waves for a representative sample of independently living residents. A telephone survey of 499 people aged 65 years and over was conducted, and included both metropolitan and rural residences. A variety of adaptive strategies were reported, with 75% maintaining regular appointments and activities during the heat. However, 74% took medication for chronic disease and 25% assessed their health status to be fair to poor. In a multivariate model, factors associated with heat health outcomes included medication for mental health, heart failure, diabetes or respiratory health, reporting a reduced health status, use of mobility aids and being female. Compared with younger participants, those over 75 had more check-up calls and visits by family, friends and neighbours. However, confidence to call on support was associated with indicators of social isolation. The study indicates that older people are generally resilient, but interventions addressing multi-morbidity and medication interactions and social isolation should be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6721-6733
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2013


  • Behaviour
  • Health knowledge
  • Heat wave
  • Heat-related illnesses
  • Older people
  • Risk factors
  • Survey


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