5 Recommendations for research
The Public Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) recommends that the following research questions should be addressed. It notes that 'effectiveness' in this context relates not only to the size of the effect, but also to cost effectiveness and duration of effect. It also takes into account any harmful or negative side effects.
5.1 What effect does the temperature in the home have on the rate of illness, death and quality of life of different groups of vulnerable people? This includes the effect and interaction of multiple vulnerabilities (such as age and pre‑existing disease). It also includes the effects of intervening factors like fuel poverty, poor housing and outdoor temperature. Analysis is needed of existing UK‑based databases.
5.2 What are the barriers to, and facilitators for, action and coping strategies among people vulnerable to cold‑related illness and death with respect to cold homes (including ventilation)? (This includes self-disconnection when using pre‑payment meters.) Analysis of quantitative and qualitative research is needed.
5.3 How effective and cost effective are different types of intervention to prevent a range of cold‑related illnesses and death? How do these vary with groups in different circumstances? They should be of a sufficient scale to be meaningful, use objective measurements and include 'natural experiments', including the roll‑out of smart meter technology.
5.4 What is the relationship between improved home energy efficiency and the indoor temperature selected by people living in a representative cohort of UK housing types? What is the trade‑off between reduced fuel bills and higher indoor temperatures following alterations to home energy efficiency?
5.5 What opportunities are there to use electronic systems to reduce the health risks associated with cold homes? For example, could temperature alert systems be linked from a smart meter to a health or social care provider?
More detail identified during development of this guideline is provided in gaps in the evidence.