Analysing Ontario Public Health Nurses Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs about Roles and Responsibilities in Addressing Climate Change
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The developed world now recognizes the long-term implications of climate change on the health of global populations. In 2008, the Canadian Nurses Association and the International Council of Nurses clearly defined the role of the nurse in building community resilience to climate change. The purpose of this study was to explore Ontario public health nurses’ (PHN) knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and actions towards climate change. Data for this cross-sectional study was collected with an online questionnaire. Using the concepts underpinning the theory of planned behavior (TPB), the questionnaire adapted a series of previously developed questions. Descriptive statistics along with comparisons using Kruskal-Wallis H tests and Chi-square statistics were calculated using SPSS®. Logistic Regression was used to explore predictive models for intention to act. The majority of participants agreed that climate change is happening and will have local impacts. Most participants believed that PHNs and local public health agencies (LPHAs) had a responsibility to address climate change but had less agreement about ability and the level of priority given to the issue. Geographic comparisons showed that northern region participants were in less agreement than the central region regarding LPHAs responsibility to address climate change. Liberal leaning participants were more likely to agree that climate change posed a local risk than Conservative leaning participants. However, Conservative leaning participants reported more current action or intention to act on several specific actions related to climate change. Two predictive models examining the effect of TPB components on intention to act demonstrated the best fit: making personal choices that impact climate change, and reducing social inequities that increase vulnerability to climate change. The models, however, did not add a lot of predictive power to the constant. Implications for nursing practice include the need for education about climate change in the nursing curriculum as well training for PHNs in LPHAs on local impacts and health risks related to climate change. The study also informs policy makers and public health leaders about potential roles for PHNs on this emerging issue, their interest in the area and the need for integration of climate change into the Ontario Public Health Standards.