Vrotsou, K., Subiza-Pérez, M., Lertxundi, A., Vergara, I., Marti-Carrera, I., Ochoa De Retana, L., Duo, I., Ibarluzea, J., 2023. Environmental health knowledge of healthcare professionals: Instrument development and validation using the Rasch model. Environmental Research 235, 116582. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2023.116582
What is known about the subject?
A quarter of global mortality and morbidity are attributable to environmental factors, such as air pollution, the presence of toxic chemicals in drinking waters and food, or vector-borne diseases, amongst others. What remains less clear is the extent to which health professionals incorporate environmental health knowledge and recommendations to their daily clinical practice. In fact, the few studies conducted on the subject reveal that, despite the general interest in the field, the levels of knowledge and skills are limited.
?What does this study add to the existing literature?
Literature available is scarce, and mostly focused on paediatric and nursing professionals and children’s environmental health content. When we started to work on this line of research we realised we needed to develop an instrument for measuring knowledge in environmental health that also included content from other areas of this discipline, such as toxicology or zoonosis. It was also necessary to work with professionals from other specialties to develop a more comprehensive understanding.
Both of the articles we refer to in this review show the results of the validation study of the scale of environmental health and knowledge levels in a sample of more than 400 health professionals and students in the historical territory of Gipuzkoa. Regarding the knowledge scale, data show that its refined 33-item version meets the necessary requirements in terms of reliability and validity. On the other hand, a pattern similar to that described in other countries is also observed in our sample. Study participants are aware of the relevance of environmental health and showed willingness to learn further. However, despite their moderate knowledge level, they hardly use instruments such as the environmental exposure history or give advice to their patients on environmental health issues.
What are the implications of the findings?
We are currently conducting other studies in other parts of the country to confirm if what we have observed in Gipuzkoa can be extended to other locations. If that is case, we believe it would be necessary to devise strategies to increase the training of health professionals and to give greater emphasis to environmental health in the public health system general practice.
Kalliopi Vrotsou. Biostatistics. Research Unit, Gipuzkoa Primary Care and Integrated Care Organisations (AO-OSISs). Provides methodological and statistical support to health professionals, mainly for Primary Care. Primary Care Research Group of Biogipuzkoa Health Research Institute. Part-time Lecturer at University of Deusto.
Mikel Subiza-Pérez. Postdoctoral researcher. Faculty of Psychology. University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU. Biogipuzkoa Health Research Institute. Spanish Consortium for Research on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBER-ESP). Institute Carlos III.