Impact of community education on heat-related health outcomes and heat literacy among low-income communities in Karachi, Pakistan: A randomised controlled trial

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMJ Global Health








Clinical trial; Health education and promotion


Background Extreme heat exposure is a growing public health concern. In this trial, we tested the impact of a community health worker (CHW) led heat education programme on all-cause mortality, unplanned hospital visits and changes in knowledge and practices in Karachi, Pakistan. Methods The Heat Emergency Awareness and Treatment trial was a community-based, open-label, two-group, unblinded cluster-randomised controlled trial that implemented a CHW-led educational intervention between March and May 2018 in Karachi, Pakistan. We randomly assigned (1:1) 16 clusters, each with ∼185 households or 1000 population, to the intervention or usual care (control group). We collected data on all-cause mortality, unplanned hospital visits, evidence of heat illness through surveillance and a knowledge and practice survey during the summer months of 2017 (preintervention) and 2018 (postintervention). Findings We recruited 18 554 participants from 2991 households (9877 individuals (1593 households) in the control group and 8668 individuals (1398 households) in the intervention group). After controlling for temporal trends, there was a 38% (adjusted OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.49 to 0.77) reduction in hospital visits for any cause in the intervention group compared with the control group. In addition, there was an improvement in many areas of knowledge and practices, but there was no significant difference in all-cause mortality. Interpretation A CHW-led community intervention was associated with decreased unscheduled hospital visits, improved heat literacy and practices but did not impact all-cause mortality. CHWs could play an essential role in preparing communities for extreme heat events. Trial registration number NCT03513315.