Effect of extreme temperatures on daily emergency room visits for mental disorders

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Aug;28(29):39243-39256. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-12887-w. Epub 2021 Mar 22.


Relatively few studies investigated the effects of extreme temperatures (both heat and cold) on mental health (ICD-9: 290-319; ICD-10: F00-F99) and the potential effect modifications by individuals' age, sex, and race. We aimed to explore the effect of extreme temperatures of both heat and cold on the emergency room (ER) visits for mental health disorders, and conducted a stratified analysis to identify possible susceptible population in Erie and Niagara counties, NY, USA. To assess the short-term impacts of daily maximum temperature on ER visits related to mental disorders (2009-2015), we applied a quasi-Poisson generalized linear model combined with a distributed lag non-linear model (DLNM). The model was adjusted for day of the week, precipitation, long-term time trend, and seasonality. We found that there were positive associations between short-term exposure to extreme ambient temperatures and increased ER visits for mental disorders, and the effects can vary by individual factors. We found heat effect (relative risk (RR) = 1.16; 95% confidence intervals (CI), 1.06-1.27) on exacerbated mental disorders became intense in the study region and subgroup of population (the elderly) being more susceptible to extreme heat than any other age group. For extreme cold, we found that there is a substantial delay effect of 14 days (RR = 1.25; 95% CI = 1.08-1.45), which is particularly burdensome to the age group of 50-64 years old and African-Americans. Our findings suggest that there is a positive association between short-term exposure to extreme ambient temperature (heat and cold) and increased ER visits for mental disorders, and the effects vary as a function of individual factors, such as age and race.

Keywords: Climate; Distributed lag nonlinear model (DLNM); Emergency room (ER) visits; Environmental epidemiology; Extreme temperatures; Mental disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollution*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Middle Aged
  • Temperature