197944 A survey of physician knowledge and attitudes regarding climate change and health

Monday, November 9, 2009: 9:00 AM

Mona Sarfaty, MD , Family and Community Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Safiya Abouzaid, PharmD , School of Population Heatlh, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Elaine J. Yuen, PhD , School of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Erica Frank, MD, MPH , Preventive Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Climate change is likely to have substantial impact on the health of the populations cared for by U.S. clinicians. The level of knowledge of physicians and other health professionals about the health effects of climate change is unknown. Assessment is needed to inform education policy and produce professionals who are sufficiently informed to provide appropriate health care and support policy development. A brief pilot survey was administered to two groups of physicians (N1=50, N2=49) in June 2008. There were questions on knowledge, attitudes, and specific medical problems related to global warming. Surveys were returned by 50/65 (77%) of the first group and 49/68 (75%) of the second. The first group had an older mean age, a male majority, were more likely to be urban and were less likely to be practicing in a primary care field. A majority of both groups (76%/67%) agreed that global warming is happening and threatens future generations' well-being and safety. Fewer of each group were concerned about the health effects of climate change on their patients (47%/52%). Even fewer agreed that global warming is associated with increases in mosquito born diseases like dengue fever or malaria (33%/33%), or infectious diarrhea from contamination of drinking water with heavy rains (35%/25%). Awareness of associated heat stress and asthma and chronic lung disease was higher (59%/65%). Only 60% and 46% had received prior environmental training. This pilot demonstrates knowledge deficiencies and points to the need for education of physicians and other health professionals about climate and health.

Learning Objectives:
1. List 4 known health impacts associated with climate change. 2. Identify the problem of deficient environmental education in medical training. 3. Discuss the importance of disseminating information about the health effects of climate change.

Keywords: Climate Change, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed the study, supervised the analysis of the data, and wrote the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.