Enhancing the Australian healthcare sector's responsiveness to environmental sustainability issues: suggestions from Australian healthcare professionals

Aust Health Rev. 2013 May;37(2):158-65. doi: 10.1071/AH11108.


Objective: Identify strategies to implement change across the Australian healthcare sector to better support social and natural environments. Methods. Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with Australian healthcare professionals.

Results: Interviewees described multiple barriers to implementing change and numerous strategies to overcome these barriers. They argued that action must be taken at the individual and systemic levels to produce substantial and effective change. The strategies recommended fall into four main categories: altering workplace cultures and professional identities, community engagement, political activity, and change from within. The overarching goals of these strategies are to reduce negative impacts on the natural environment, and increase social equity within and across generations.

Conclusions: By implementing the strategies described, a more cohesive effort to address sustainability issues across the sector can be made. This may improve local and global health, within current and future generations. WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT THE TOPIC? Healthcare has a significant impact on the natural and social environments, which in turn have a significant impact upon health and healthcare. WHAT DOES THIS PAPER ADD? This paper describes strategies to alter healthcare to better support environmental sustainability. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTITIONERS? Collective implementation of the described strategies may allow a more cohesive and effective response across the Australian healthcare sector, to enhance local and global health for current and future generations.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Environmental Health*
  • Health Care Sector
  • Health Personnel*
  • Qualitative Research