Nexus of heat-vulnerable chronic diseases and heatwave mediated through tri-environmental interactions : A nationwide fine-grained study in Australia

Siqin WANG, Wenhui CAI, Yaguang TAO, Qian Chayn SUN, Paulina Pui Yun WONG, Witchuda THONGKING, Xiao HUANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

Abstract

The warming trend over recent decades has already contributed to the increased prevalence of heat-vulnerable chronic diseases in many regions of the world. However, understanding the relationship between heat-vulnerable chronic diseases and heatwaves remains incomplete due to the complexity of such a relationship mingling with human society, urban and natural environments. Our study extends the Social Ecological Theory by constructing a tri-environmental conceptual framework (i.e., across social, built, and natural environments) and contributes to the first nationwide study of the relationship between heat-vulnerable chronic diseases and heatwaves in Australia. We utilize the random forest regression model to explore the importance of heatwaves and 48 tri-environmental variables that contribute to the prevalence of six types of heat-vulnerable diseases. We further apply the local interpretable model-agnostic explanations and the accumulated local effects analysis to interpret how the heat-disease nexus is mediated through tri-environments and varied across urban and rural space. The overall effect of heatwaves on diseases varies across disease types and geographical contexts (latitudes; inland versus coast). The local heat-disease nexus follows a J-shape function-becoming sharply positive after a certain threshold of heatwaves-reflecting that people with the onset of different diseases have various sensitivity and tolerance to heatwaves. However, such effects are relatively marginal compared to tri-environmental variables. We propose a number of policy implications on reducing urban-rural disparity in healthcare access and service distribution, delineating areas, and identifying the variations of sensitivity to heatwaves across urban/rural space and disease types. Our conceptual framework can be further applied to examine the relationship between other environmental problems and health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116663
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume325
Issue numberPt B
Early online date5 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is supported by the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) High Impact Project 2022 “Nationwide Longitudinal Database for Emerging CALD Communities and Social-Environmental Inequities”.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

Keywords

  • Heatwaves
  • Heat-vulnerable disceases
  • Social environment
  • Built environment
  • Natural environment
  • Australia
  • Heat-vulnerable diseases

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