Significant Concern about Climate and Health Among Montana Public and Environmental Health Professionals
Byron, Lori Griffin M.D.
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A survey of Montana public and environmental health professionals conducted during September and October 2019 revealed that these health professionals not only largely accept climate change but also have significant concerns about climate and health. Eighty-nine percent accepted that global warming is occurring and 69% accepted human causation. They expressed much stronger climate change risk perceptions compared to the general public in recent surveys and in most surveys of health professionals, and similar perceptions to vulnerable health care providers working with vulnerable populations. In addition, most felt that their own health was already being affected by climate. Most felt that mental health effects from climate change would be a concern in the future (89%). Political ideology was found to be the demographic most highly correlated with acceptance of global warming’s occurrence, human causation, and risk perception. Three-fourths of respondents felt that health departments should be preparing to deal with the public and environmental health effects of climate change. Almost all felt that multiple entities in Montana, including public and environmental health professionals, should be working to address climate change. Environmental health and public health professionals did not differ significantly in their acceptance of global warming and human causation and risk perception. Compared to a separate cohort of students, professionals were less likely to accept global warming and had lower risk perceptions, but acceptance of human causation did not differ between the two groups. Very few studies have looked at these populations with these questions.