The effect of temperature on cause-specific mental disorders in three subtropical cities: A case-crossover study in China

Shiyu Zhang, Yin Yang, Xin Hui Xie, Huan Li, Rong Han, Jiesheng Hou, Jia Sun, Zhengmin (Min) Qian, Shaowei Wu, Cunrui Huang, Steven W. Howard, Fei Tian, Wen Feng Deng, Hualiang Lin

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23 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the association between ambient temperature and cause-specific mental disorders, especially in subtropical areas. Objective: To investigate the effect of ambient temperature on mental disorders in subtropical cities. Method: Daily morbidity data for mental disorders in three Chinese cities (Shenzhen, Zhaoqing, and Huizhou) were collected from medical record systems of local psychiatric specialist hospitals, covering patients of all ages. Case-crossover design combined with a distributed lag nonlinear model (DLNM) was used to assess the nonlinear and delayed effects of temperatures on five specific mental disorders (affective disorders, anxiety, depressive disorders, schizophrenia, and organic mental disorders), with analyses stratified by gender and age. The temperature of minimum effect was used as the reference value to calculate estimates. Results: We observed inversed J-shaped exposure-response curves between temperature and mental morbidity and observed that low temperatures had a significant and prolonged effect on most types of mental disorders in the three cities. For example, the effect of the cold (2.5th percentile) on anxiety was consistently observed in the three cities with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.29 (95% CI: 1.06–1.57) in Zhaoqing, 1.26 (95% CI: 1.18–1.34) in Shenzhen, and 1.45 (95% CI: 1.17–1.81) in Huizhou. Low temperature was also associated with an increased risk of depressive disorders and schizophrenia. For the high temperature exposure (97.5th percentile), we only observed a significant, harmful effect on anxiety [OR = 1.30 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.58) in Shenzhen, OR = 1.16 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.34) in Zhaoqing], affective disorders [OR = 1.32 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.62) in Shenzhen], and schizophrenia [OR = 1.24 (95% CI: 1.03, 1.48) in Zhaoqing, OR = 1.03 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.06) in Huizhou]. Conclusions: Our study suggests that both low and high temperatures might be important drivers of morbidity from mental disorders, and low temperature may have a more general and wide-spread effect on this cause-specific morbidity than high temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105938
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - Oct 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)


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