Photo by: Pixabay user Elf-Moondance

Communicating Statistics on the Health Effects of Climate Change

07/16/2022 | New England Journal of Medicine

Health professionals need to communicate the health and equity implications of climate change swiftly and effectively to patients and the public to protect health and motivate action argues our Yerby Fellow and Climate MD lead, Dr. Renee Salas and Dr. Ellen Peters from the School of Journalism and Communication and the Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon in a new perspective for the New England Journal of Medicine.

In “Communicating Statistics on the Health Effects of Climate Change,” Salas and Peters share communications principles for health professionals to guide discussions with patients and the public to increase understanding of climate and health issues, protect health today, and galvanize action toward an equitable transition away from fossil fuels.

“…clinicians have a powerful megaphone — and a profound responsibility — to effectively communicate health-related statistics. But the way they do so is important…” – Salas and Peters

The authors write that providing statistics from a trusted source, such as a health care professional, can help earn people’s trust and motivate them to engage in healthier behavior,

Health professionals should:

  • Start with choosing a communication goal — what the audience needs to understand.
  • Be transparent about uncertainty to help avert the undermining of trust when something unexpected occurs.
  • Provide context through using comparisons.
  • Include hyperlocal data, including stories about people affected by climate change to promote understanding of its relevance to people’s lives paired with data.
  • Provide solutions with a call to action.

Read in The New England Journal of Medicine. 

Toward a Climate-Ready Health Care System: Institutional Motivators and Workforce Engagement

Dr. Caleb Dresser argues that health care systems must reframe incentives and engage their workforce to become climate-resilient.

Read Now

Study: Teaching community organizing principles to health professionals significantly increases their capacity to take climate action

Read Now

Federal investments in climate change and health research are inadequate says Harvard analysis

Critical knowledge gaps hinder an evidence-based response and are perpetuated by scarce federal research funds.

Read Now

Hundreds of Hospitals on Atlantic and Gulf Coasts at Risk of Flooding from Hurricanes

Our study is the first to systematically investigate flooding risk to nearly 700 U.S. hospitals on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from Category 1-4 storms.

Read Now

Communicating Statistics on the Health Effects of Climate Change

Health professionals need to communicate the health and equity implications of climate change effectively to protect health and motivate action.

Read Now

A Pediatrician’s Guide to Climate Change-Informed Primary Care

A practical approach for connecting climate change with health during pediatric well visits.

Read Now

The medical response to climate change

Our Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein lays out five pillars for the medical response to climate change.

Read Now

Adding A Climate Lens To Health Policy In The United States

Our Yerby Fellow Dr. Renee Salas and Interim Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein outline specific recommendations for achieving climate action through health policy and decision making.

Read Now

'We Don't Have To Live This Way': Doctors Call For Climate Action

A sprawling analysis published by The Lancet focuses on public health data from 2019, and finds that heat waves, air pollution and extreme weather increasingly damage human health.

Read Now

Challenges and opportunities to sustainably scale up surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia care globally

Strategies for the surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia community to sustainably scale up SOA care to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address health equity and social justice issues.

Read Now

Rx for the planet's fever

A physician makes a call to action to his colleagues to treat climate change as a critical health issue.

Read Now

Viewpoint: Encouraging health professionals’ civic engagement to address health impact of climate crisis

Health professionals who want to address the effects of the climate crisis on the health of people and the planet should become more civically engaged.

Read Now

Green resolutions

How you can do right by your health, your wallet, and the planet in 2020.

Read Now

A focus on news about the environment

The Australian bush fires, the politics of climate change, and sea level rise in Boston’s disadvantaged neighborhood were among the topics discussed in a new environmental news roundtable on the WGBH radio show “Under the Radar with Callie Crossley.” One of the panelists featured in the roundtable, which premiered on January 12, 2020, was pediatrician…

Read Now

A doctor's guide to health in a changing climate

Connecting health, health care, and climate change and offering actions families can take to protect their health.

Read Now

The rising health threats of a hot planet

Patients are already feeling the health effects of climate change, and physicians play an important role in providing information and advocating for policies that put less stress on the planet.

Read Now

Why physicians see climate change as a health emergency

Research Fellow Renee Salas on how climate change disrupts patient care.

Read Now

Climate change threatens the achievement of effective universal healthcare

Minimizing the health harms of climate change will only be achieved through an integrated agenda and aligned solutions.

Read Now

Diseases are on the rise due to climate change

Extreme weather events can affect critical medical supplies, and that's just one of the many ways climate change affects health, and why doctors are speaking out.

Read Now

Combating EPA rollbacks — Health care’s response to a retreat on climate

Our Director Gina McCarthy and Co-director Dr. Aaron Bernstein on the many things the healthcare sector can do to fight the climate crisis.

Read Now

Dr. Renee Salas

Renee N. Salas MD, MPH, MS

Renee's work focuses on the intersection of the climate crisis, health, and healthcare delivery.

View Profile