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Guest Thinkers

Grant Project to Focus on Communicating the Health Impacts of Climate Change

Earlier this month, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation officially announced its 2009 Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research. Ten projects involving sixteen scholars from the country’s top research universities were recipients of grants up to $335,000. For more on the program and awards, see this announcement. An abstract of our funded project on climate change communication is posted below.

Our research, in fact, is already well under way. This summer, with the help of several top class graduate students, we completed hour-long interviews with 70 Americans recruited from among 6 distinct audience segments. We are currently in the process of systematically analyzing these qualitative interviews. Later this year we will be in the field with an innovative national survey that tests the effects of different frames on climate change perceptions and behaviors. News on forthcoming studies and articles will be posted here.

Climate change poses a potentially significant threat to the public’s health, and addressing it is among President Obama’s top priorities. Edward W. Maibach, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor and director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, and Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D., assistant professor at American University’s School of Communication, believe that citizens and stakeholders need to play an active role in formulating effective public policies and investments in greenhouse gas reduction. Their project, Mobilizing Citizen Support for Climate Stabilization and Adaptation Policies, investigates how best to engage Americans on climate control issues and analyzes the extent to which a health perspective can enlist community interest and participation. Through surveys and interviews, Drs. Maibach and Nisbet explore people’s beliefs and motivations and test their reactions to various policy proposals and messages about climate change and its health implications. Their research findings could help galvanize the public health community and provide policy experts, government agencies, journalists, and other stakeholders with practical guidance on how best to increase public understanding of the implications of climate change.


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