The Health Impacts of Climate Change: A Continuing Medical Education Needs Assessment Framework

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Abstract

Introduction:

As the health consequences of climate change (CC) will likely become more manifest in the future, family physicians have to be knowledgeable about these impacts and the ways in which they can affect their patients. The main aim of this study was to propose a competency framework and questionnaire used to conduct a needs analysis to identify and prioritize family physicians' real educational needs regarding the health impacts of CC.

Methods:

A mixed method combining a qualitative interview and a quantitative online questionnaire was used (n = 24 physicians). The interview assessed key beliefs related to participating in an online continuing medical education (eCME) activity on the health impacts of climate change, and the perception of the key factors or conditions required to ensure the family physicians' satisfaction with this eCME activity. The questionnaire assessed the current and desired levels of competency on five general training themes: general knowledge about CC; heat-related illnesses; CC, extreme weather events and modification of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases; CC, extreme weather events and modification of water-borne diseases; and mental health impacts of natural disasters.

Results:

Results revealed the need for improved medical education on climate change and health. Results also add to the literature by showing that a 3-hour eCME activity covering these topics would be useful and would allow family physicians to use this knowledge in their daily practice, notably through prevention and counseling.

Discussion:

Introducing a CME needs assessment framework and a generic instrument that reflects family physicians' needs regarding the health impacts of CC has the added advantage of standardizing the assessment procedure.

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