A survey of international members of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) found that 96 percent of respondents agreed that climate change is occurring and 81 percent indicated that climate change has direct relevance to patient care. Compared to a similar survey of American ATS members, more international physician members reported that climate change was affecting their patients "a great deal" or a "moderate amount" (69 percent international vs. 44 percent U.S.).
Survey results are published in the October issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
"The response from international physicians underscores that of American respondents who noted the impact of illness severity related to increases in pollution, specifically asthma, COPD, pneumonia and cardiovascular disease," said John Balmes, MD, past Chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee and one of the study authors.
Respondents further noted the following as the most common health effects of climate change among their patients:
- Severity of chronic disease - 88 percent
- Increased allergic symptoms - 72 percent
- Heat-related effects - 70 percent
- Injuries due to severe weather - 69 percent
- Vector-borne infections - 59 percent
- Diarrhea from food/water-borne illnesses - 55 percent
The survey, which was conducted by the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, polled 5,013 international members. The survey had a response rate of 9.8 percent and respondents represented 68 countries.
The survey results come on the heels of the DC District Court of Appeals' hearing of oral arguments related to the US Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan on September 27. ATS and several physician organizations jointly filed an amicus brief with the court arguing that climate change has negative consequences for patients' health.
American Thoracic Society