Attitude of US obstetricians and gynaecologists to global warming and medical waste

Cassandra Thiel, Paula Duncan, Noe Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Global warming (or climate change) is a major public health issue, and health services are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in high-income countries. Despite the scale of the health care sector’s resource consumption, little is known about the attitude of physicians and their willingness to participate in efforts to reduce the environmental impact of health services. Methods: A survey of 236 obstetricians and gynaecologists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Western Pennsylvania, USA. Survey responses were compared to Gallup poll data from the general population using a one-sample test of proportions, Fisher’s exact tests, Chi-square test, and logistic regression. Results: Physicians in obstetrics and gynaecology were more likely than the public (84% vs. 54%; p<0.001) to believe that global warming is occurring, that media portrayal of its seriousness is accurate, and that it is caused by human activities. Two-thirds of physicians felt the amount of surgical waste generated is excessive and increasing. The majority (95%) would support efforts to reduce waste, with 66% favouring the use of reusable surgical tools over disposable where clinically equivalent. Despite their preference for reusable surgical instruments, only 20% preferred the reusable devices available to them. Conclusions: Health care providers engaging in sustainability efforts may encounter significant support from physicians and may benefit from including physician leaders in their efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-167
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Health Services Research and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Climate change
  • Global warming
  • Operating room
  • Physician
  • Survey
  • Waste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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