Cold comfort: The social and environmental determinants of excess winter deaths in England, 1986-1996

Paul Wilkinson, Ben Armstrong, Megan Landon et al.

7 November 2001

Britain has a very large winter excess of mortality - greater than that in most other European countries.

The UK government has recently introduced a new home energy efficiency scheme (‘Warm Front’) to improve the energy efficiency of dwellings of those on low income. The aim of this scheme is partly to tackle the adverse health consequences (including winter death) of inadequate home heating. Cold comfort is the first study to make a direct connection between the risk of winter mortality and housing quality in England.

It suggests that people living in homes that are difficult or costly to heat are at increased risk of winter/cold-related death. The study is based on new epidemiological analyses which link mortality data with data on housing quality from a large national survey. Its analyses provide new insights into the cause of the large winter excess of deaths in Britain.

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