Public Perceptions of Climate Change and Health-A Cross-Sectional Survey Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Jan 13;20(2):1464. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20021464.


Climate change is inseparably linked to human health. Although there is growing awareness of the threats to human health caused by climate change, it remains unclear how the German population perceives the relevance of climate change and its health consequences. Between May and September 2022, German residents were invited to participate in a cross-sectional online survey that explored three content areas: (1) the relevance of climate change, (2) health risks in connection with climate change and (3) collective and individual options for action against climate change. A total of 697 full data sets were collected for analysis (72% female, 51% ≥55 years old). The majority of participants agreed that human-induced climate change exists (85%), and that it has an impact on human health (83%). They also perceived the global population to be more strongly impacted by climate change than themselves (89% versus 68%). Most participants (76%) claimed to personally contribute to climate protection and 23% felt that their city or council contributed to climate protection. Although the majority of participants saw climate change as a threat to human health, they perceived other population groups to be most strongly affected. Cognitive dissonance might explain this lack of individual concern and one approach to addressing such distorted perceptions might be the dissemination of appropriate risk communication with health professionals involved in the communication.

Keywords: climate change; planetary health; public health; public perception.

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Communication
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Opinion*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.