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Original research
Are people interested in receiving advice from their general practitioner on how to protect their health during heatwaves? A survey of the German population
  1. Sabrina Kastaun1,2,
  2. Alina Herrmann3,4,
  3. Beate S Müller3,
  4. Stephanie Klosterhalfen2,
  5. Barbara Hoffmann5,
  6. Stefan Wilm1,
  7. Daniel Kotz2,6
  1. 1Institute of General Practice, Centre for Health and Society, Patient-Physician Communication Research Unit, Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
  2. 2Institute of General Practice, Centre for Health and Society, Addiction Research and Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
  3. 3Institute of General Practice, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  4. 4Institute for Global Health (HIGH), Climate, Change, Nutrition and Health, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  5. 5Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Centre for Health and Society, Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
  6. 6Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sabrina Kastaun; sabrina.kastaun{at}med.uni-duesseldorf.de

Abstract

Objective Climate change increases the frequency, intensity and length of heatwaves, which puts a particular strain on the health of vulnerable population groups. General practitioners (GPs) could reach these people and provide advice on protective health behaviour against heat. Data is lacking on whether and what topic of GP advice people are interested in, and whether specific person characteristics are associated with such interests.

Design Cross-sectional, nationwide, face-to-face household survey, conducted during winter 2022/2023.

Setting Germany.

Participants Population-based sample of 4212 respondents (aged 14–96 years), selected by using multistratified random sampling (50%) combined with multiquota sampling (50%).

Main outcome measure Interest in receiving GP advice on health protection during heatwaves (yes/no), and the topic people find most important (advice on drinking behaviour, nutrition, cooling, cooling rooms, physical activity or medication management). Associations between predefined person characteristics and the likelihood of interest were estimated using adjusted logistic regressions.

Results A total of 4020 respondents had GP contact and provided data on the outcome measure. Of these, 23% (95% CI=22% to 25%) expressed interest in GP advice. The likelihood of expressing interest was positively associated with being female, older age (particularly those aged 75+ years: 38% were interested), having a lower level of educational attainment, having a migration background, living in a more urban area, and living in a single-person household. It was negatively associated with increasing income. Advice on medication management received highest interest (25%).

Conclusions During winter season 2022/2023, around one quarter of the German population with GP contact—and around 40% of those aged 75+ years—was estimated to have a stated interest in receiving GP advice on protective health behaviour during heatwaves, especially on medication management. Climate change is creating new demands for healthcare provision in general practice. This study provides initial relevant information for research and practice aiming to address these demands.

  • primary health care
  • epidemiologic studies
  • primary care

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The data underlying this study are third-party data and are available to researchers on reasonable request from the corresponding author (sabrina.kastaun@med.uni-duesseldorf.de). All proposals requesting data access will need to specify how it is planned to use the data, and all proposals will need approval of the study team (DK, SKl, SKa) before data release.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The data underlying this study are third-party data and are available to researchers on reasonable request from the corresponding author (sabrina.kastaun@med.uni-duesseldorf.de). All proposals requesting data access will need to specify how it is planned to use the data, and all proposals will need approval of the study team (DK, SKl, SKa) before data release.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @KastaunS

  • Contributors SKa coordinated the study, conceptualised and drafted the analysis protocol, drafted the manuscript, analysed and interpreted the data. As the guarantor, SKa accepts full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish. AH and BSM provided expert advice on the development of the main outcome question and, together with BH, SKl, and SW critically revised the analysis protocol and the manuscript. DK conceived the study, provided expert advice on analyses and critically revised the analysis protocol and the manuscript. All named authors contributed substantially to the manuscript and agreed on its final version.

  • Competing interests BSM receives an honorarium as a scientific advisor to the insurance company ‘Die Techniker’. AH is member of the German Climate Change and Health Alliance (KLUG e.V.) and speaker of the section climate change and health of the German College of General Practitioners and Family Physicians (DEGAM). She does not receive payments from any of those organisations. The other authors have no competing interests to declare.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.