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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(12), 12473-12485; doi:10.3390/ijerph111212473

A Survey of African American Physicians on the Health Effects of Climate Change

1
Center for Climate and Health, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, MS 6A8, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
2
Commission on Environmental Health, National Medical Association, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 September 2014 / Revised: 28 October 2014 / Accepted: 17 November 2014 / Published: 28 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather-Related Morbidity and Mortality: Risks and Responses)
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Abstract

The U.S. National Climate Assessment concluded that climate change is harming the health of many Americans and identified people in some communities of color as particularly vulnerable to these effects. In Spring 2014, we surveyed members of the National Medical Association, a society of African American physicians who care for a disproportionate number of African American patients, to determine whether they were seeing the health effects of climate change in their practices; the response rate was 30% (n = 284). Over 86% of respondents indicated that climate change was relevant to direct patient care, and 61% that their own patients were already being harmed by climate change moderately or a great deal. The most commonly reported health effects were injuries from severe storms, floods, and wildfires (88%), increases in severity of chronic disease due to air pollution (88%), and allergic symptoms from prolonged exposure to plants or mold (80%). The majority of survey respondents support medical training, patient and public education regarding the impact of climate change on health, and advocacy by their professional society; nearly all respondents indicated that the US should invest in significant efforts to protect people from the health effects of climate change (88%), and to reduce the potential impacts of climate change (93%). These findings suggest that African American physicians are currently seeing the health impacts of climate change among their patients, and that they support a range of responses by the medical profession, and public policy makers, to prevent further harm. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; health impacts; medical practice; environmental health; climate and health; vulnerable populations; African Americans climate change; health impacts; medical practice; environmental health; climate and health; vulnerable populations; African Americans
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sarfaty, M.; Mitchell, M.; Bloodhart, B.; Maibach, E.W. A Survey of African American Physicians on the Health Effects of Climate Change. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 12473-12485.

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