A survey to inform clinical approaches to address climate health and equity

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Authors: Eric Balaban and Lesa Walker
Page Range: 417-430
Published in: International Public Health Journal, 15#4 (2023)
ISSN: 1947-4989

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT

Climate change is a present and growing threat to public health. Unfortunately, underrepresented populations experience a disproportionately increased risk to their health. This exploratory survey draws insights from United States-based healthcare providers who identify as part of and/or serve underrepresented communities. The survey assesses their clinical perspectives and practices in addressing the health impacts of climate change (climate-health) and associated health inequities. The survey was designed using input from healthcare leaders with expertise and experience serving underrepresented communities. It was disseminated via partnering clinical provider networks. Results were collated within a SurveyMonkey platform and analyzed using descriptive statistics. The surveyed medical providers recognized climate change and its potential impacts on patient health but were least familiar with its impacts on health inequities. Only 26% routinely screened for climate change-related health risks, and only 20% discussed these risks in clinical encounters. The most common barriers to screening were time constraints (72%) and competing priorities (53%). Participants suggested that a screening tool could be optimized by prioritizing expediency of use (70%) and incorporation into the electronic medical record system (67%). Conversing with patients about climate change and their health was most hindered by time constraints (68%) and the lack of familiarity with solutions to offer (53%). This study identifies opportunities to optimize educational, material, and systems-level interventions to expand climate-conscious clinical practice. Importantly, these results focus on the lived experiences of frontline providers to inform solutions.

Keywords: Climate change, climate-informed care, survey, climate-health, health equity, health disparities, environ-mental health, environmental justice, climate justice, health-care systems, climate resilience

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