A nationwide programme to improve home insulation can deliver a reduction in hospital admission rates, according to an article published in the BMJ.
The retrospective analysis used a difference-in-difference approach to compare the change in hospital admissions of the study population post-insulation with the change in hospital admissions of the control population that did not receive the intervention over the same timeframe. Relative rate ratios were used to compare the two groups.
The results show that 234,873 hospital admissions occurred during the study period. Post-intervention increases were significantly lower (11%) in the intervention group than in the control group, representing 9.26 fewer hospital admissions per 1,000 in the intervention population. Effects were more pronounced for respiratory disease, asthma in all age groups, and ischaemic heart disease in those older than 65 years.
The study showed that the retrofitting of home insulation was associated with a reduction in the frequency of hospital admissions, the authors say. Further studies should focus on whether improvements in energy efficiency result in long term behavioural changes, and on the impact these changes can have on cold associated ill health, they conclude.