We undertook a national analysis to characterise and identify risk factors for acute respiratory infections (ARIs) resulting in hospitalisation during the winter period in Scotland.


A population-based retrospective cohort analysis.




The study involved 5.4 million residents in Scotland.

Main outcome measures

Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between risk factors and ARI hospitalisation.


Between 1 September 2022 and 31 January 2023, there were 22,284 (10.9% of 203,549 with any emergency hospitalisation) ARI hospitalisations (1759 in children and 20,525 in adults) in Scotland. Compared with the reference group of children aged 6–17 years, the risk of ARI hospitalisation was higher in children aged 3–5 years (aHR = 4.55; 95% CI: 4.11–5.04). Compared with those aged 25–29 years, the risk of ARI hospitalisation was highest among the oldest adults aged ≥80 years (aHR = 7.86; 95% CI: 7.06–8.76). Adults from more deprived areas (most deprived vs. least deprived, aHR = 1.64; 95% CI: 1.57–1.72), with existing health conditions (≥5 vs. 0 health conditions, aHR = 4.84; 95% CI: 4.53–5.18) or with history of all-cause emergency admissions (≥6 vs. 0 previous emergency admissions, aHR = 7.53; 95% CI: 5.48–10.35) were at a higher risk of ARI hospitalisations. The risk increased by the number of existing health conditions and previous emergency admission. Similar associations were seen in children.


Younger children, older adults, those from more deprived backgrounds and individuals with greater numbers of pre-existing conditions and previous emergency admission were at increased risk for winter hospitalisations for ARI.


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Cite as

Shi, T., Millington, T., Robertson, C., Jeffrey, K., Katikireddi, S., McCowan, C., Simpson, C., Woolford, L., Daines, L., Kerr, S., Swallow, B., Fagbamigbe, A., Vallejos, C., Weatherill, D., Jayacodi, S., Marsh, K., McMenamin, J., Rudan, I., Ritchie, L., Mueller, T., Kurdi, A. & Sheikh, A. 2024, 'Risk of winter hospitalisation and death from acute respiratory infections in Scotland: national retrospective cohort study', Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1177/01410768231223584

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Last updated: 29 March 2024
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