Wednesday, 25 March 2015

What do nurses think about climate change?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Do nurses have views on climate and environmental issues? Do nurses even think about environmental issues?

In my keynote address at the East Asian Forum of Nursing Scholars in Taiwan earlier this year I was asked to address 'Global issues facing nursing' and I specifically referred to climate change and environmental issues as being important.  On a visit to Mainland China late last year I saw work by a masters student on how nurses need to prepare for climate change and the effect it will have on vulnerable people - for example the effect of heatwaves on older people - and we have had at least one other article in JAN on this issue recently (Kangasniemi et al. 2014).

It appears that nurses do think about climate and environmental issues according to a study from Sweden by Anäker et al. (2015) titled: 'Nurses’ perceptions of climate and environmental issues: a qualitative study'.  As explained by the authors: 'The aim of this study was to explore nurses’ perceptions of climate and environmental issues and examine how nurses perceive their role in contributing to the process of sustainable development.'  Using a combination of individual interviews and focus groups with 18 nurses they found that: 'While being green is not the primary task in a lifesaving, hectic and economically challenging context, nurses’ perceived their profession as entailing responsibility, opportunities and a sense of individual commitment to influence the environment in a positive direction.'

This is a pioneering study with nurses and the authors conclude that: 'This study also highlights the importance of introducing the topic of sustainability in nursing education. The topic should be incorporated throughout nursing education programmes. It is important that nursing students be prepared to cope with situations arising as a result of climate change.'

You can listen to this as a podcast.

References

Anäker A, Nilsson M, Holmner A, Elf M (2015) Nurses’ perceptions of climate and environmental issues: a qualitative study Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12655


Kangasniemi M. Kallio H, Pietilä A-M (2014Towards environmentally responsible nursing: a critical interpretive synthesis Journal of Advanced Nursing 70(7), 14651478. doi:10.1111/jan.12347

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