Although the impact of temperature on mortality is well documented, relatively fewer studies have evaluated the associations of temperature with morbidity outcomes such as hospital admissions, and most studies were conducted in North America or Europe. We evaluated weather and hospital admissions including specific causes (allergic disease, asthma, selected respiratory disease, and cardiovascular disease) in eight major cities in Korea from 2003 to 2008. We also explored potential effect modification by individual characteristics such as sex and age. We used hierarchical modeling to first estimate city-specific associations between heat, cold, or heat waves and hospitalizations, and then estimated overall effects. Stratified analyses were performed by cause of hospitalization, sex, and age (0-14, 15-64, 65-74, and ≥75 years). Cardiovascular hospitalizations were significantly associated with high temperature, whereas hospitalizations for allergic disease, asthma, and selected respiratory disease were significantly associated with low temperature. The overall heat effect for cardiovascular hospitalization was a 4.5% (95% confidence interval 0.7, 8.5%) increase in risk comparing hospitalizations at 25 to 15 °C. For cold effect, the overall increase in risk of hospitalizations comparing 2 with 15 °C was 50.5 (13.7, 99.2%), 43.6 (8.9, 89.5%), and 53.6% (9.8, 114.9%) for allergic disease, asthma, and selected respiratory disease, respectively. We did not find statistically significant effects of heat waves compared with nonheat wave days. Our results suggest susceptible populations such as women and younger persons. Our findings provide suggestive evidence that both high and low ambient temperatures are associated with the risk of hospital admissions, particularly in women or younger person, in Korea.
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