Severe weather warnings predict fracture epidemics

Iain R. Murray, Colin R. Howie, Leela C Biant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Winter epidemics of fractures have been described that greatly exceed normal seasonal variations and overwhelm resources. We investigated the relationship between severe weather warnings, the frequency of fractures, and fracture related workload. There was a significant increase in fractures with cold and inclement weather, mostly low-energy fractures treated with day-case surgery or in fracture clinics. The number of patients treated as inpatients for fractures did not increase. Hip fractures were not associated with weather. Severe weather warnings for icy roads were predictive of fracture epidemics (p<0.01) with an associated 40% (95% confidence limits 20-52%) increase in fractures. Meteorological Office issued severe weather warnings can provide a trigger to plan for an increased workload of low-energy fractures, with opportunities for anticipatory public health measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-90
Number of pages4
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • Accidental Falls/prevention & control
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Epidemics
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Ice/adverse effects
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology
  • Weather
  • Workload


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