In May 2021, Lancet Planet Health published a study detailing the views of healthcare professionals on climate change and health. The multinational, survey-based study was built of 3977 international participants, of which 95% were physicians. The study included participants from over 12 countries and explored the views and links between climate change and health.
What did the findings show?
The results from the study highlight barriers which healthcare professionals face when communicating climate change to their colleagues, patients and peers. One of the main barriers recognised is the time constraints experienced by so many practitioners. With an already congested timetable delivering healthcare services and undertaking other, compulsory, training, many healthcare professionals feel there simply isn’t time to embed sustainability training into their schedules. Practitioners also spoke of a lack of knowledge around the subject and a doubtfulness in their ability to make a difference; this was coupled with little support from colleagues and a feeling of controversy when discussing climate and health.
Participants felt a responsibility to educate policymakers and the public about the problem. However, they stated they felt they had insufficient knowledge about the links between climate change and health and this presented a barrier to them when wanting to engage on the issue.
14% of participants stated their engagement on the topic would be too risky for them on a personal and professional level. This identifies a need for a cultural shift within our healthcare systems which considers the health of our environment alongside the health of our population.
Three main action points of the study suggest that:
How can we utilise Carbon Literacy to address these findings?
Our plans for the sector
A Carbon Literacy Toolkit for healthcare providers is currently in development. The healthcare toolkit takes a more flexible approach than the toolkits available in other sectors, as it’s made up of 75% generic material which is suitable for any NHS professional, and 25% tailored content for learners. This 25% draws on localised trust-wide examples, risks posed to healthcare workers, trust-wide emissions, what needs to be done within individual departments and examples of climate action happening in departments in other trusts.
This approach plans to encompass the varied nature of healthcare professionals and the barriers mentioned in the research paper above. This approach will also provide training that is relevant, peer focused and localised to anyone working within healthcare.
If you would like to know more about our work and plans within healthcare, get in touch.