142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Climate Change and Public Health Focus Groups: Awareness of climate change as an important health issue and support for health-oriented climate action

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 5:10 PM - 5:30 PM

Brooke Sommerfeldt, MPH , Office of Health Equity, Climate and Health Team, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA
Kathy Dervin, MPH , Consultant, Consultant, Berkeley, CA
Climate change threatens the health and wellbeing of all people, negatively affecting the life systems we depend on- air, water, food, shelter, and security. While considerable work has been done to increase public knowledge about the implications of climate change, few efforts have used a health frame to reach members of the public. The California Department of Public Health, Climate and Health Team in the Office of Health Equity is working to provide guidance to local health departments on ways to integrate the health impacts of climate change into their programs. This includes developing communications strategies and messages to increase awareness of climate change as an important health issue and expand health-oriented climate action efforts in California.

In spring of 2013 CDPH, the University of California, Davis and Harder+Company conducted six focus groups (in English and Spanish) in Fresno, LA, San Jose/Oakland with community health leaders. The focus groups explored the existing knowledge and attitudes about climate change as a public health issue among residents who were currently involved in community health endeavors ranging from chronic disease, asthma, physical activity, nutrition, built environment, emergency preparedness/response, and environmental justice.

This formative research provided a unique and in-depth exploration of the current perceptions of climate change among the sample population. Two key finding are: (1) Community health leaders in this study- though concerned- still do not have a clear understanding of the causes and effects of climate change and its health implications; and (2) Participants identified a need to leverage community voices and identify opportunities to coordinate efforts across different health issues to address existing inequities- in particular those worsened by climate change. Focus group findings will be discussed as well as opportunities that CDPH is considering as it develops strategies aimed to strengthen health-oriented climate protection efforts.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the connection between climate change, public health, and health equity. Describe ways to increase awareness of and engagement in climate change as an important public health issue.

Keyword(s): Climate and Health, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed and implemented the qualitative research (focus groups)this session is based on, to better understand the knowledge and attitudes of lay community health leaders on climate change as a public health issue. I am the senior climate and health policy and planning staff for CDPH and represent our agency on the state's climate mitigation and adaptation planning committees.
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.