Mental health and air temperature: Attributable risk analysis for schizophrenia hospital admissions in arid urban climates

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5 Scopus citations


Health researchers have examined the physiological impacts of extreme air temperature on the human body. Yet, the mental health impacts of temperature have been understudied. Research has shown that the environment can create circumstances that exacerbate mental health issues. This may be particularly challenging for some of the fastest growing cities, located in hot, dry climates. Given the theoretical relationship between air temperature and mental health, we seek to measure the association between temperature and schizophrenia hospital admissions in an arid urban climate and quantify the associated public health burden. We collected 86,672 hospitalization records for schizophrenia from 2006 to 2014 in Maricopa County, Arizona, USA. Using a distributed lag non-linear model (DLNM), we tested for a statistical association between temperature and schizophrenia hospital admissions after controlling for year, season, weekends, and holidays. We calculated the cumulative attributable risk of nighttime temperature on schizophrenia for the entire dataset as well as among demographic subgroups. The relative risk of schizophrenia hospital admissions increased with both high and low temperatures. Statistical models using daily minimum temperature were more strongly associated with hospitalization than those using mean or maximum. Schizophrenia hospital admissions increased on days with minimum temperatures above 30 °C and below 3 °C, with some subgroups experiencing higher rates of hospitalization. The total fraction of schizophrenia hospital admissions attributable to non-optimal minimum temperature is 3.45 % (CI: −4.91-10.80 %) and high minimum temperature is 0.28 % (CI: −1.18-1.78 %). We found that non-whites and males appear to be at a slightly increased risk than the general population, although there did not appear to be a statistically significant difference. A conservative estimate of healthcare costs annually from non-optimal temperature attributed schizophrenia hospitalization is $1.95 million USD. Therefore, nighttime cooling strategies and efforts could increase the accessibility of shelters to reduce overnight exposure to extreme air temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number160599
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • Air temperature
  • Environmental health
  • Heat
  • Mental health
  • Schizophrenia
  • Urban environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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