Storm clouds

Evaluation of the Effects of Weather Variation on Health and the Healthcare Sector in the UK

Researcher: Dr Laure de Preux

Collaborator: Dr Marisa Miraldo

Funder: British Academy

Duration: October 2013 – August 2016


There is clear evidence that climate variability directly affects individuals’ health and well-being and meteorological conditions can have a variety of impacts ranging from psychological stress to physical injury or death. Little is known of the effect of large range weather events on morbidity. This project will address important gaps by creating a unique dataset of weather and health outcomes in the UK. Using advanced econometric techniques, it will analyse the causal effects of weather on morbidity, and extend the analysis to identify sub-populations at risk. Finally, it will estimate the monetary costs of these effects.

The research centres around three projects; the first unites Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) and MetOffice data to compare a wide range of weather aspects to just an analysis of temperature, to determine how best to model the link between weather events and health over time. The second project will estimate the causal effects of variety of weather events on different health outcomes and population sub-groups, defined by education and skills, unemployment, income, living environment (e.g. proportion of houses with central heating), family receiving specific social support, and recorded crime. The final project will provide specific costs estimates of weather variation on the NHS so this work will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the impact of climate change on healthcare sectors in the UK. 

Key research questions

This project will answer three inter-related research questions:

  • What are the links between variation in temperature, precipitation, wind and pressure, and morbidity accounting for persistence and cumulative effects?
  • What are the causal effects of weather events on morbidity and how do they differ in terms of socio-economic factors?
  • What are the hospital costs implied by weather variation?

Research Partners

  • Grantham Institute for Climate Change