Epidemiological studies increasingly provide evidence about the adverse health effects of temperature variability (TV), which reflects short-term intra- and inter-day temperature change. However, calculation of TV only considers the temporal variability and lacks spatial variability. This study intends to investigate whether the lack of spatial variability in TV calculations has biased the health effect estimates. We collected daily data from the fine-gridded hourly temperatures and more than 2 million all-cause mortality counts in Zhejiang province in China from 2009 to 2015. A spatiotemporal TV index was developed by calculating the standard deviation of the hourly temperatures based on records from multiple sites. This new index could be compared to the two typical temporal TV indices that are calculated based on the hourly temperatures from one-site and area-average records. The three types of TV are compared using a three-stage analytical approach: district-specific time series Poisson regression, meta-analysis, and calculation of attributable mortality fraction. We observe that both spatiotemporal and temporal TVs produce very similar TV–mortality associations, attributable mortality fractions, and model fits at the district level. For example, the mortality increase associated for every increase of 1 °C during 0–7 exposure days is 1.53% (95% CI: 1.31, 1.73) in spatiotemporal TV, whereas it is 1.48% (95% CI: 1.27, 1.68) and 1.45% (95% CI: 1.24, 1.67) in the one-site and area-average temporal TV, respectively. Thus, time series models using temporal TV index are equally good at estimating the associations between TV and mortality as spatiotemporal TV at the district level in population-based epidemiological studies in China. Epidemiological studies using temperature from one site or the averages of multiple sites in TV calculation will not bias the effect estimates of TV. Our study could provide an important guidance method for future TV-related research in China and even in other countries.
- Temperature change
- Temperature variability