The evolving call to action for including climate change and environmental sustainability themes in health professional education: A scoping review



There is an urgent need to include climate change (CC) themes in health professional education (HPE) to prepare the future health workforce. The Lancet Countdown has identified scientific engagement with the issue of climate change (CC), including coverage in academic journals, as an indicator of progress towards addressing the health effects of CC. Examining the discourse on CC in the HPE academic literature is therefore essential to understand how the health professions are engaging with this. This review explored the literature, including editorials and perspectives articles which are usually excluded from reviews, calling for the inclusion of CC in HPE and examined the emerging themes.

Materials and methods

OVID MEDLINE, PubMed, Global Health, Google Scholar, and Cochrane databases were searched. Eligible articles were those calling for CC in HPE (2000–August 2022). Data were extracted and analyzed by comparing the themes between articles and identifying trends over time. Results were presented in narrative form.


63 articles were eligible. Four themes were identified (1) Leadership (n = 33 articles): need for HPs to lead on CC and advocate for policy change. (2) Scope (n = 43): proposed CC content for HPE programs, from specific diseases to the broader concept of planetary health. (3) Implementation (n = 30): described how to integrate CC by adapting programs or rebuilding curricula around planetary health. (4) Barriers (n = 14): described barriers including crowded curricula, lack of resources and the political climate within the institution and community.


The growing engagement of HPE with CC and health is evidence of increasing commitment for inclusion of this content in HP curricula. This segment of the scientific literature is a vehicle for engaging health professionals with emerging evidence-informed climate and health issues.


Climate change, Medical education, Health professional education, Environmental sustainability, Curriculum

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