Sustainability Victoria research into climate change and health impacts found that most healthcare professionals believe climate change-related health conditions will increase over the next 10 years, particularly heat-related and mental health conditions.
But only one third of healthcare professionals feel well-informed and confident to talk about these issues with patients, the research found.
In 2019 Sustainability Victoria surveyed 3060 Victorian members of the public and over 700 healthcare professionals about their awareness and knowledge of the health impacts of climate change. ANMF (Vic Branch) promoted the survey to members.
Most healthcare professionals (92 per cent) believe that climate change is a serious problem that needs immediate action. The research found that Victorian healthcare professionals are already seeing climate change-related health conditions such as thunderstorm asthma, heat stress or heatstroke, pollen-related allergies and lung conditions from increased air pollution.
Depression or severe anxiety related to climate change was also noted by half the surveyed health professionals.
‘Healthcare professionals strongly believe the public needs to be better informed about the health risks of climate change,’ the research report Linking Climate Change and Health Impacts says.
However the research found that ‘significant proportions of the public…remain unaware of a range of health conditions that health professionals believe will become more common.’
Older people were less likely to be aware of heatstroke and heat stress yet are one of the most vulnerable groups for these conditions.
Healthcare professionals identified housing quality as an area for attention, with 40 per cent saying poor thermal qualities in Victorian housing – particularly public housing – is a major problem and will become more so as temperatures increase.