Examining the Heat Health Burden in Australia: A Rapid Review

Manoj Bhatta, Emma Field, Max Cass, Kerstin Zander, Steven Guthridge, Matt Brearley, Sonia Hines, Gavin Pereira, Darfiana Nur, Anne Chang, Gurmeet Singh, Stefan Trueck, Chi Truong, John Wakerman, Supriya Mathew

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Extreme heat has been linked to increased mortality and morbidity across the globe. Increasing temperatures due to climatic change will place immense stress on healthcare systems. This review synthesises Australian literature that has examined the effect of hot weather and heatwaves on various health outcomes. Databases including Web of Science, PubMed and CINAHL were systematically searched for articles that quantitatively examined heat health effects for the Australian population. Relevant, peer-reviewed articles published between 2010 and 2023 were included. Two authors screened the abstracts. One researcher conducted the full article review and data extraction, while another researcher randomly reviewed 10% of the articles to validate decisions. Our rapid review found abundant literature indicating increased mortality and morbidity risks due to extreme temperature exposures. The effect of heat on mortality was found to be mostly immediate, with peaks in the risk of death observed on the day of exposure or the next day. Most studies in this review were concentrated on cities and mainly included health outcome data from temperate and subtropical climate zones. There was a dearth of studies that focused on tropical or arid climates and at-risk populations, including children, pregnant women, Indigenous people and rural and remote residents. The review highlights the need for more context-specific studies targeting vulnerable population groups, particularly residents of rural and remote Australia, as these regions substantially vary climatically and socio-demographically from urban Australia, and the heat health impacts are likely to be even more substantial.

Original languageEnglish
Article number246
Number of pages18
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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