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Excess winter mortality in Finland, 1971–2019: a register-based study on long-term trends and effect modification by sociodemographic characteristics and pre-existing health conditions

Suulamo, Ulla, Remes, Hanna, Tarkiainen, Lasse, Murphy, Michael and Martikainen, Pekka (2024) Excess winter mortality in Finland, 1971–2019: a register-based study on long-term trends and effect modification by sociodemographic characteristics and pre-existing health conditions. BMJ Open, 14 (2). ISSN 2044-6055

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Identification Number: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-079471

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Excess winter mortality is a well-established phenomenon across the developed world. However, whether individual-level factors increase vulnerability to the effects of winter remains inadequately examined. Our aim was to assess long-term trends in excess winter mortality in Finland and estimate the modifying effect of sociodemographic and health characteristics on the risk of winter death. DESIGN: Nationwide register study. SETTING: Finland. PARTICIPANTS: Population aged 60 years and over, resident in Finland, 1971-2019. OUTCOME MEASURES: Age-adjusted winter and non-winter death rates, and winter-to-non-winter rate ratios and relative risks (multiplicative interaction effects between winter and modifying characteristics). RESULTS: We found a decreasing trend in the relative winter excess mortality over five decades and a drop in the series around 2000. During 2000-2019, winter mortality rates for men and women were 11% and 14% higher than expected based on non-winter rates. The relative risk of winter death increased with age but did not vary by income. Compared with those living with at least one other person, individuals in institutions had a higher relative risk (1.07, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.08). Most pre-existing health conditions did not predict winter death, but persons with dementia emerged at greater relative risk (1.06, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.07). CONCLUSIONS: Although winter mortality seems to affect frail people more strongly-those of advanced age, living in institutions and with dementia-there is an increased risk even beyond the more vulnerable groups. Protection of high-risk groups should be complemented with population-level preventive measures.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2024 12:09
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 18:15
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/121965

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