Nursing faculty's knowledge on health impacts due to climate change

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


More than 150 thousand excess deaths occurred in 2000 from disease and injury related to climate change (Frumkin et. al, 2008). With the increase in climate temperature, the sea level is rising causing flooding, displacing people from their homes and damaging the water supply causing water-borne illnesses. Warm temperatures are extending the length of transmission seasons for vector-borne illnesses, and variable precipitation is causing damage to food crops affecting the source of nutrition (WHO, 2008). Nurses are often on the front lines of managing illness and injury related to climate change, but, it is unknown to what extent they are prepared to do so. Because basic nursing competencies are achieved in nursing schools, focus on preparation of nursing faculty to prepare nursing students in competencies related to climate change is logical. The purpose of this study is to evaluate professor's knowledge of health impacts due to climate change. In total, 103 nursing faculty were selected from the single university to participate in a survey designed to obtain a general baseline of faculty knowledge regarding health effects associated with climate change. Results: The most recognized health impact related to climate change reported by respondents was flooding-related displacement of residents. They viewed flooding as already increased (n=32, 84%) and expected flooding to continue increasing into the future . Other recognized health impacts due to climate change that respondents believe have already increased and will increase in the next 20 years included air quality related illnesses (already increased 83%, will increase 80%) and disruption of health care services during extreme weather events (already increased 70% will increase 68%) Discussion: In general, when comparing present-day health impacts to those that may occur 20 years from now, faculty believed the incidence of each health impact will increase and very few responses reported the health impacts not increasing over the next 20 years.




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