Outdoor thermal comfort and somatic symptoms among students in a tropical city

Nasrin Aghamohammadi, Chng Saun Fong, Muniratul Husna Mohd Idrus, Logaraj Ramakreshnan, Ubydul Haque

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12 Scopus citations


Rapid urbanization has induced the urban heat island phenomenon which threatens the urban environment and the well-being of communities within it. The prevalence of physical and mental problems associated with hot weather has shown an upward trend recently. However, literature revealed a scarcity of urban health statistics, especially in hot-humid tropical cities. Thus, through this study, we aim to: (1) assess the outdoor thermal comfort of participants in terms of neutral, acceptable and preferred temperatures and (2) examine the association of outdoor thermal sensation and severity of the somatic symptom. A cross-sectional study was conducted by adopting random clustered sampling in a tropical university campus involving 392 healthy individuals aged 18 years and above within 5 m radius from the deployed weather station. Data collection was conducted from April to June 2019 from 1000 to 1700 h. Respondents were required to answer questionnaires that comprise sociodemographic profiles, thermal perception votes, and Patient Health Questionnaire–15 to screen for somatic symptoms. Meteorological data recorded from the weather station was used to evaluate Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET) using RayMan model. Findings revealed the neutral, acceptable range and preferred temperature to be 25.6 °C PET, 25.9–32.3 °C PET, and 22.1 °C PET, respectively. About 57.1 % of the participants showed moderate–to–high severity of somatic symptoms. After controlling for gender and ethnicity, participants with warm thermal sensation reported 2.44 times higher odds of having moderate–to–high severity of somatic symptoms than those who had neutral physiological thermal sensation (OR = 2.44, 95 % CI: 1.34, 4.43). Gender and ethnicity were the confounders to somatic symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103015
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Emotional well-being
  • Outdoor thermal comfort
  • Physical well-being
  • Public health
  • Tropical city
  • Urban Heat Island


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