University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Correlation Between Climate Change and Dysphoria in Primary Care

Jonathan L. Temte, MD, PhD; John R. Holzhauer, MD; Kenneth P. Kushner, PhD

WMJ. 2019;118(2):71-74.

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Background: Concern about climate change may affect mental health. We evaluated the relationship between primary care patients’ attitudes toward climate change and dysphoria.

Methods: In 2013, we surveyed 571 adult primary care patients in southern Wisconsin. Attitudes toward climate change were measured using a 46-point composite of 9 questions. Dysphoria was measured using a 13-point composite summing the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-2).

Results: Patients frequently reported concern about climate change and 22.5% experienced dysphoria. A significant, positive correlation existed between the composite climate change score and the dysphoria score (rs=0.345; P<0.001).

Conclusion: Primary care patients are concerned about climate change and this concern is positively related to dysphoria. The level to which dysphoria is due to climate change should be elucidated.

Author Affiliations: Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (Temte, Kushner), BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine (Holzhauer), University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wis.
Corresponding Author: J.L. Temte, MD, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, 1100 Delaplaine Ct, Madison 53715-1896; phone 608.263.3111; email
Acknowledgements: Cristalyne Bell, BS, and Bruce Barrett, MD, PhD, contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript.
Funding/Support: The Summer Student Research and Clinical Assistantship program at University of Wisconsin, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health contributed financial support to this study.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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