Gender differences on perceptions of health risks and adaptation of climate change among primary healthcare workers in Guangdong Province
Background Climate change has resulted in long-term impacts on human health. Implementing efficient adaptation strategies among primary healthcare facilities is well determined by whether staff of different genders recognize the health risks related to climate change and are willing to take active measures.
Objective To investigate gender differences on perceptions of health risks and attitude towards adaptation strategies among primary healthcare workers in China, and provide relevant suggestions.
Methods By adopting a multi-stage cluster sampling method, we selected 21 urban and 10 rural healthcare facilities in Guangdong Province to collect information with a questionnaire. Then chi-square test, Wilcoxon rank sum test, and logistic regression analysis were used to explore the gender differences in climate change-related health risk cognition, knowledge acquisition channels, attitudes towards adaptation strategies, main obstacles, and resource requirements among the healthcare workers.
Results Of 733 participants, 38.47% (282 participants) were male and 61.53% (451 participants) were female. The percentages of male healthcare workers who agreed that climate change is happening and recognized the causes of climate change (70.21%, 60.99%) were higher than the percentages of female counterparts (59.87%, 49.00%) (both Ps＜0.05), but no obvious gender differences existed in recognizing health risks of heatwaves and infectious diseases as well as sensitive population identification (all Ps＞0.05). Most of the participants (92.50%) received climate change and health-related information from mass media like TV, radio, and newspapers. Meanwhile less men chose new media channels than women (OR=0.62, 95%CI∶ 0.41-0.94). Only 30.56% of the participants (33.69% of men and 28.60% of women) reported involvement of relevant training and lectures. Most of them (90.96%) agreed to take active measures to deal with the health threats associated with climate change without gender differences for various measures (all Ps＞0.05). The leading obstacles were hard to integrate health adaptation to climate change into main work of institutions (most female agreed, 72.28%) and the lack of funds (most male agreed, 77.66%). Increasing funding for primary health care was regarded as the most needed resource by male (86.88%) and female (89.14%). After controlling the influence of other social factors, more men agreed with the lack of funds than women (OR=1.57, 95%CI∶ 1.10-2.24).
Conclusion There are some gender differences in the perceptions of health risks and adaptation strategies of climate change among primary healthcare workers: Male staff are more likely to agree with climate change and regard the lack of funds as the main obstacle, while women prefer to choose new media channels to obtain information. It’s suggested that the government and relevant institutions focus on the learning and training of climate change and health-related knowledge and expand diversified information access, and promote capacity building to cope with health threats at grass-root level, in the light of recognized gender differences among primary healthcare workers.