Heat waves are correlated with increased mortality in the aged population. Social isolation is known as a vulnerability factor. This study aims at evaluating the correlation between an intervention to reduce social isolation and the increase in mortality in the population over 80 during heat waves.
This study adopted a retrospective ecologic design. We compared the excess mortality rate (EMR) in the over-80 population during heat waves in urban areas of Rome (Italy) where a program to reduce social isolation was implemented, to others where it was not implemented. We measured the mortality of the summer periods from 2015 to 2019 compared with 2014 (a year without heat waves). Winter mortality, cadastral income, and the proportion of people over 90 were included in the multivariate Poisson regression. Results: The EMR in the intervention and controls was 2.70% and 3.81%, respectively. The rate ratio was 0.70 (c.i. 0.54–0.92, p-value 0.01). The incidence rate ratio (IRR) of the interventions, with respect to the controls, was 0.76 (c.i. 0.59–0.98). After adjusting for other variables, the IRR was 0.44 (c.i. 0.32–0.60).
Reducing social isolation could limit the impact of heat waves on the mortality of the elderly population. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.