| Erfurt Laboratory for Empirical Research, Institute for Planetary Health Behaviour, Philosophische Fakultät, Seminar für Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaft, SPF Bildung. Schule. Verhalten., Forschung

Health risks from heat: New findings for better education

The climate crisis has far-reaching consequences for human health. One of the most obvious impacts is the increase in temperature and extreme heat events. High temperatures can pose significant risks to the human body, especially for certain segments of the population. These include older people; infants and young children; pregnant women; people who are overweight or malnourished; people who do heavy physical work or work outdoors; people who play intensive sports; homeless people; people with acute illnesses or certain chronic conditions; and people who regularly use alcohol or drugs. Their physiological characteristics make them more vulnerable to heat stress and heat-related illness. Against this background, the Institute for Planetary Health Behaviour (IPB) at the University of Erfurt launched a special survey on heat in May 2023 as part of its PACE study. A second survey followed in July, which yielded surprising results:

People with risk factors who do not know their heat risk are still an important and large target group for education. Despite the numerous media offerings on the topic of heat between the two survey dates in the past months, the individual assessment of the persons now surveyed again as to whether they belong to a risk group has not improved. Their knowledge about the topic has not increased either. However, people who had reached the information on heat and heat protection had at least a slightly higher risk perception according to the current results. Many of the respondents said they were informed about heat protection behaviour overall, but gaps in knowledge about heat and its health consequences were evident in the current survey. Overall, 60 percent of the respondents stated that they had not been reached by the information available in the media or in their environment on the topic of heat. When asked if they would sign up for a municipal heat register that warns and advises people by phone when the heat is high, 30 percent of the elderly or chronically ill respondents answered "yes".

The research team's conclusion: Despite the current high media presence of the topic of heat protection, not even 50 percent of the people surveyed were reached with the topic - and this despite the fact that they had already been prepared by the first survey. Furthermore, their knowledge on the topic of heat protection (behaviour) had practically not increased – not even with regard to their own risk group affiliation – and thus their behaviour had changed only minimally as a result of the information provided. The research team therefore recommends that future information and education campaigns be designed for the long term and that attention be paid to addressing the target group appropriately.

You can find more about the current survey in the summary(in German only).


(Institute for Planetary Health Behaviour (IPB))
Weltbeziehungen / C19.01.27