The American Thoracic Society has published the results of a survey of its members on climate change finding that the majority believe climate change is real and that it is having a negative impact on the health of their patients.

According to a media statement from the ATS, 89 percent of the ATS members responding to the survey believe climate change is happening, and 65 percent believe climate change is relevant to direct patient care—either a great deal or a moderate amount.

Reported adverse health effects attributed to climate change included worsening of asthma due to exposure to ozone or other pollutants, longer and more severe allergy seasons, and an increased number of cases of acute and chronic lung conditions.

“Our physician members are seeing the effects that climate change is having on the well-being of their patients,” said John R. Balmes, MD, Chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee, who was one of the survey’s authors. “These results talk to the importance of groups involved in healthcare taking a stand on this issue, and educating their members and the patients that they serve that climate change is a healthcare issue.”

The survey, conducted by the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, polled 5,500 U.S. ATS members about climate change and its impact on patients. The survey had a response rate of 17 percent.

In addition to Dr. Balmes, other ATS authors of the survey included Gary Ewart, Senior Director of ATS Government Relations and George D. Thurston, DSc, and Tee L. Guidotti, MD, MPH, who are Vice Chair and member, respectively, of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee.

Of ATS members surveyed, 68 percent also indicated that they believe climate change is being driven entirely or mostly by human activity.

The survey results are published in the February issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Source: American Thoracic Society