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Title: Integrated causal-predictive machine learning models for tropical cyclone epidemiology Authors:  Rachel Nethery - Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (United States) [presenting]
Abstract: Strategic preparedness reduces the adverse health impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms, referred to collectively as tropical cyclones (TCs), but its protective impact could be enhanced by a more comprehensive and rigorous characterization of TC epidemiology. To generate the insights and tools necessary for high-precision TC preparedness, we introduce a machine learning approach that standardizes estimation of historic TC health impacts, discovers common patterns and sources of heterogeneity in those health impacts, and enables identification of communities at the highest health risk for future TCs. The model integrates (1) a causal inference component to quantify the immediate health impacts of recent historic TCs at high spatial resolution and (2) a predictive component that captures how TC meteorological features and socioeconomic/demographic characteristics of impacted communities are associated with health impacts. We apply it to a rich data platform containing detailed historic TC exposure information and records of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular- and respiratory-related hospitalization among Medicare recipients. We report a high degree of heterogeneity in the acute health impacts of historic TCs, both within and across TCs, and, on average, substantial TC-attributable increases in respiratory hospitalizations. TC sustained windspeeds are found to be the primary driver of mortality and respiratory risks.