Online Program

Engaging Doctors in Sustainability–Survey Results from 2 Physician Associations

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 2:50 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.

Mona Sarfaty, MD MPH, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Ed Maibach, PhD, MPH, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
The American Thoracic Society (ATS), in collaboration with George Mason University, surveyed a random sample of ATS members to assess their perceptions of, clinical experiences with, and preferred policy responses to climate change.  An email containing an invitation from the ATS President and a link to an online survey was sent to 5500 randomly selected U.S. members; up to four reminder emails were sent to non-respondents.  Responses were received from members in 49 states and the District of Columbia (n=915); the response rate was 17%.  Geographic distribution of respondents mirrored that of the sample. Survey estimates’ confidence intervals were +/- 3.5% or smaller.  Results indicate that a large majority of ATS members have concluded that climate change is happening (89%), that it is driven by human activity (68%), and that it is relevant to patient care (“a great deal”/“a moderate amount”) (65%); 80% favor encouraging offices, clinics, hospitals to be environmentally sustainable.  A majority of respondents indicated they were already observing health impacts of climate change among their patients; most commonly as increases in chronic disease severity from air pollution (77%), allergic symptoms from exposure to plants or mold (58%), and severe weather injuries (57%).  A prior survey of African American Physicians in the National Medical Association produced similar results.  A larger majority of both associations anticipated seeing these climate-related health impacts in the next two decades, and there was strong interest in having physicians and physician organizations play an active role in educating patients, the public, and policy makers on the human health effects of climate change.  The session will present the results of both surveys and recommend approaches for building engagement and action based on these findings.   

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe documented physician perspectives on climate change. Discuss physicians' experience with the health effects of climate change. List opportunities to increase engagement on climate change by doctors and communities

Keyword(s): Climate and Health, Air Pollution & Respiratory Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I did the research on which this presentation is based.
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.

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