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Type: Theses
Title: Population health and climate change: public perceptions, attitudes and adaptation to heat waves in Adelaide, Australia
Author: Akompab, Derick Akoku
Issue Date: 2014
School/Discipline: School of Population Health
Abstract: Background and objectives: There is compelling scientific evidence that climate change will increase the frequency of heat waves which have an impact on population health. In Adelaide, unprecedented heat waves have been experienced in recent years which had significant impact on human health. The objectives of this research project were to: (1) explore public opinion (views and attitudes) about heat waves in relation to climate change, (2) explore public understanding of the consequences and the emotional and psychological responses associated with heat waves, (3) identify the predictors of risk perception using a heat wave scenario and adaptive behaviours during heat waves; and (4) explore the concept of multi-stakeholder processes during the development of an adaptation strategy for heat waves. Methods: In the first study, interviews were conducted among fourteen residents to explore their views about heat waves, their understanding of its consequences and the emotional and psychological responses associated with heat waves. The second study was a cross-sectional study that examined the attitudes towards heat waves, risk perception and adaptive behaviours during heat waves among 267 participants with the health belief model used as the theoretical framework. The third study explored the concept of multi-stakeholder processes during the development of an adaptation strategy for heat waves. Data were gathered through a review of policy documents and interviews with eighteen stakeholders involved in the strategy development process. Qualitative data were analysed according to themes while descriptive and inferential statistical techniques were used to analyse quantitative data. Results: In the first study, most participants didn’t associate recent heat waves in Adelaide with climate change, although they acknowledged a considerable change in weather patterns over recent years. Although there were differences in the level of understanding among the participants, they modified their behaviours during a heat wave. Fear, worry, anxiety and concern were the main emotional responses associated with heat waves. Participants were concerned about low agricultural productivity, the costs of running an air-conditioner, sleeping well, and the threat of bush fires during a heat wave. In the second study, there was a significant association between gender, annual household income and concern for the societal effects of heat waves. About 43.2% of the participants believed that heat waves will extremely or very likely increase in Adelaide according to climate projections; 49.3% believed that the effects of heat waves were already being felt. The significant predictors of risk perception included age, marital status, annual household income, fan ownership and living arrangements. Participants’ perceived benefit, cues to action, educational level, and annual household income were associated with adaptive behaviours during a heat wave. In the third study, there was high level governance, leadership, collaboration, coordination and good institutional arrangements during the adaptation strategy development process in South Australia. The process benefited from the Emergency Management Act 2004, which facilitated an enabling environment. Although the process was not entirely inclusive and the fact that it experienced a few challenges, the strategy development process was overall successful. Conclusions: These findings suggest that there are variations in public opinion about heat waves in the context of climate change. Heat waves affect the emotional and psychological wellbeing of certain individuals. Using the health belief model as the theoretical framework, perceived benefit and cues to action predicted good adaptive behaviours. There were some demographic factors that were associated with risk perception in relation to heat waves. These factors would inform risk communication and behaviour change strategies for heat waves. An adaptation policy process for heat waves indicates that the process can be successful through a participatory process characterised by good leadership, excellent coordination, governance and institutional framework.
Advisor: Bi, Peng
Williams, Susan
Walker, Iain
Augoustinos, Martha
Saniotis, Arthur
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Population Health, 2014.
Keywords: climate change
human health
heat waves
mental models
health belief model
risk perception
adaptive behaviours
stakeholder engagements
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text. This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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