Assessing hospitalists' opinions regarding the role of environmental health within the practice of hospital medicine

Document Type


Publication Date



Internal Medicine

Journal Title

Journal of hospital medicine


BACKGROUND: Environmental health represents the concept that a stable climate and clean environment are fundamental prerequisites for good human health. Despite growing awareness of the impact of climate change more broadly, knowledge of environmental health has not fully entered mainstream medicine in the United States. OBJECTIVE: To understand practicing hospitalists' perspectives regarding the current and future roles of environmental health within the practice of hospital medicine, as well as existing barriers and potential motivators to its further inclusion. METHODS: We conducted virtual focus groups of practicing hospitalists in partnership with the Hospital Medicine Reengineering Network from across the United States. Structured interviews elicited hospitalists' thoughts pertaining to environmental health. Transcripts then underwent descriptive coding to identify and group comments into themes. RESULTS: We conducted three focus groups with a total of 14 physician participants. Four themes emerged: the negative environmental impact of the healthcare system, a lack of prioritization of environmental health within hospital medicine, the potential for expanding environmental health in nonclinical roles including medical education, and the importance of systems-level support. CONCLUSION: Environmental health is felt to be of importance, and while there exist avenues to do better, there is limited understanding of hospitalists' most effective role in making change.