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Knowledge of and interest in climate-health issues among French junior ­doctors Volume 23, issue 1, January-February 2024

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Authors
1 Faculté de médecine de Strasbourg 4, rue Kirschleger 67000 Strasbourg France
2 Département de médecine générale Université de Rennes 1 2, avenue du Pr Léon Bernard 35043 Rennes Cedex France
3 Faculté de médecine Lyon 18, avenue Rockefeller 69003 Lyon France
* Tirés à part : M. Dailland

Introduction

A report in The Lancet has identified climate change (CC) as the greatest public health threat of the 21st century. CC and health are intertwined: on one hand, climate change has consequences on individuals’ health and on the other, the health care system contributes to the CC effect. Therefore, there is a need to train caregivers in these emerging health risks. Our study is the first to focus on the training given to young doctors in France on ­climate-health issues. The objective of our study was to assess young doctors’ attitudes towards and understanding of climate and health issues.

Materials and methods

We carried out a quantitative study constructed with an online ­questionnaire distributed to young doctors from 09/21/2021 to 02/21/2022.

Results

695 young doctors responded to the questionnaire (i.e., 7 % of young doctors in France from the graduating classes of 2019, 2020, 2021, n = 9670). Ninety-four percent of respondents said they are interested in CC, almost all think that there is a link between CC and health (95 %), and that training would be relevant in their university course (81 %). Eighty-eight percent of participants think that CC could have an impact on their professional practice but they claim to be poorly trained (only between 2 % and 4.5 % had already followed a course on this topic). Ninety-three percent correctly answered that CC can aggravate chronic pathologies (respiratory, cardiovascular and psychiatric pathologies) due to extreme climatic phenomena (heat wave, flood). The respondents identified groups of people who were ­vulnerable to heat waves. Gaps in knowledge have been identified regarding the management of kidney pathologies and water-borne diseases (cholera), as well as the influence of heat waves.

Conclusion

There is a strong demand for training in energy-climate issues, in contrast to the insufficient courses available. This finding is consistent with previous multinational studies. Diseases related to CC are growing but are insufficiently understood by young doctors. It therefore appears essential to set up training courses on these topics.