Many students encounter challenges related to climate change health learning opportunities

A new study posted in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open details the offerings and difficulties students face with acquiring learning opportunities on the health impacts of climate change.

The study, conducted by a team at Columbia University, aimed to answer the following key question: “What is the state of curricula on the possible association between climate change and health (climate-health) among health professions institutions internationally?”

As part of the study, Columbia researchers looked at the responses of a survey involving 160 institutional members of the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education. The survey was initiated between mid-2017 to early-2018.

In the survey, it addressed climate-health curricular offerings on an international scale, method of teaching climate-health education, the considerations of implementing climate-health education, and any reception for having added climate-health curricula.

From the gathered responses, the vast majority, or 70 percent, originated from schools or programs associated with public health or health sciences. The remaining responses were by health professions.

Based on all the respondents, most, or 63 percent, of the institutions offered climate-health education primarily as a core course. For many other respondents, implementing the topic of climate-health is under consideration, with certain challenges inhibiting its integration into curricula.

“We suggest that health professions schools include this content in their curricula and that awareness as well as financial support, resources, and expertise increase to help in its uptake,” the study’s co-authors affirmed.

“Climate change may be affecting health in a variety of ways with increasing consequences. Health professionals, including those in public health, nursing, and medical services, should be educated on how to prevent, mitigate, and respond to factors associated with climate change that may be associated with health in a negative way.”

The online study, titled Assessment of Climate-Health Curricula at International Health Professions Schools, was funded by the ClimateWorks Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation.

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