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N C Med J. 2018 Sep-Oct;79(5):270-277. doi: 10.18043/ncm.79.5.270.

Climate Change and Public Health through the Lens of Rural, Eastern North Carolina.

Author information

1
associate professor, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, Department of Public Health, Greenville, North Carolina kearneyg@ecu.edu.
2
social research specialist, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, Department of Public Health, Greenville, North Carolina.
3
professor and chair, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, Department of Public Health, Greenville, North Carolina.
4
professor, Brody School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina.
5
associate professor, Old Dominion University, Department of Political Science and Geography, Norfolk, Virginia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Recognizing that health outcomes are associated with climate threats is important and requires increased attention by health care providers and policymakers. The primary goal of this report is to provide information related to the public health threats of climate change, while identifying climate-sensitive populations primarily in rural, Eastern North Carolina.METHODS Publicly available data was used to evaluate regional (eg, Eastern, Piedmont, and Western) and county level socio-vulnerability characteristics of population groups in North Carolina, including: percent of persons living in poverty, percent of non-white persons, percent of persons under 18 years living in poverty, percent of elderly people living in poverty, percent of persons with a disability, and number of primary care physicians. One-way ANOVA was used to calculate and compare mean value estimates of population socio-vulnerability variables in Eastern North Carolina with Piedmont and Western regions.RESULTS Across all regional categories, the eastern part of the state had considerably higher averages than the state for percent of persons living in poverty (17.2%), percent of non-white persons (13.3%), percent of persons under 18 years old living in poverty (24.9%), percent of elderly people living in poverty (10.0%), and percent of persons with a disability (13.3%). Overwhelmingly, more counties in Eastern North Carolina had fewer primary care physicians (per 10,000 persons) than the state average (8.6 per 10,000 persons).CONCLUSION Eastern North Carolina has a disproportionally higher percent of population groups that are vulnerable to the threats of climate change. The need for health care providers to understand and communicate the challenges faced by rural, vulnerable population groups is of great public health importance. Communicating these health risks to policy makers is of equal importance.

PMID:
30228131
DOI:
10.18043/ncm.79.5.270
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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