Online Program

Whose responsibility is it anyway? an examination of municipal officials' perceptions of their roles in addressing climate change

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 4:30 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

Jay Maddock, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Hawai'i Manoa, Honolulu, HI
Karin Goins, MPH, Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Kristin Schneider, Ph.D., Psychology, Rosalind Franklin University, North Chicago, IL
Ross C. Brownson, PhD, The Brown School & Prevention Research Center of St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Katie M. Heinrich, PhD, Department of Kinesiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
Stephenie C. Lemon, PhD, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Climate change is a major public heath issues that requires major changes in every sector of society to help mitigate the effects. Action is necessary among policymakers and officials at all levels of government to address this public health issue. However, little is known about how municipal policymakers and government officials see their role in addressing climate change. In this study, 453 local elected officials and appointed department heads representing 8 states and 53 municipalities completed an on-line survey. Respondents were asked how important 11 issues were in the responsibilities of their current position on a five point Likert scale scored from 0-4. Overall climate change/energy conservation (m = 2.22) was the second lowest behind economic development (3.03), needs of vulnerable populations (2.81), smart growth (2.80), traffic safety (2.51) and public health (2.61). Only obesity (2.10) scored lower. Among the different job types, respondents from public health departments (1.81) were the least likely to rate climate change as an important part of their job. Bivariate analyses indicated that fiscal and social liberals and women rated climate change as a more important part of their job. Municipalities have an important role to play in mitigating climate change. However, most local and elected officials rate it lower in importance than other issues affecting their municipality. Awareness raising and education of municipal officials is needed to address the changing climate especially local health department directors.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Compare the importance of climate change to other job responsibilities among elected and appointed officials in eight US states.

Keyword(s): Climate Change, Public Health Infrastructure

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a tenured professor of public health with 80+ publications in health policy and health promotion.
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.