Time trends in the impact attributable to cold days in Spain: Incidence of local factors.


National School of Public Health, Carlos III Institute of Health, Avda. Monforte de Lemos, 5, 28029 Madrid, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : While numerous studies have shown that the impact of cold waves is decreasing as result of various processes of adaptation, far fewer have analysed the time trend shown by such impact, and still fewer have done so for the different provinces of a single country, moreover using a specific cold waves definition for each. This study thus aimed to analyse the time trend of the impact of cold days on daily mortality in Spain across the period 1983-2003.
METHODS : For study purposes, we used daily mortality data for all natural causes except accidents in ten Spanish provinces. The time series was divided into three subperiods. For each period and province, the value of Tthreshold was obtained via the percentile corresponding to the cold day's definition for that province obtained in previous studies. Relative Risks (RRs) and Population Attributable Fraction (PARs) were calculated using Generalised Linear Models (GLMs) with the Poisson regression link. Seasonalities, trends and autoregressive components were controlled. Global RRs and ARs were calculated with the aid of a meta-analysis with random effects for each of the periods.
RESULTS : The results show that the RRs for Spain as a whole were 1.12 (95% CI: 1.08 1.16) for the first period, 1.15 (95% CI: 1.09 1.22) for the second and 1.18 (95% CI: 1.10 1.26) for the third. The impact of cold days has risen slightly over time, though the differences were not statistically significant. These findings show a clearly different behaviour pattern to that previously found for heat.
CONCLUSIONS : The results obtained in this study do not show a downward trend for colds days. The complexity of the biological mechanisms involved in cold-related mortality and the lack of robust results mean that more research must be done in this particular field of public health.


Attributable risk,Cold days,Time trend,