Extreme heat and health: perspectives from health service providers in rural and remote communities in South Australia
- Year: 2013
- Author: Williams S, Bi P, Newbury J, Robinson G, Pisaniello D, Saniotis A, Hansen A
- Journal Name: International Journal of Environmental Health and Public Health
- Journal Number: 10:11
- Country: Australia
- State/Region: South Australia
Among the challenges for rural communities and health services in Australia, climate change and increasing extreme heat are emerging as additional stressors. Effective public health responses to extreme heat require an understanding of the impact on health and well-being, and the risk or protective factors within communities. This study draws on lived experiences to explore these issues in eleven rural and remote communities across South Australia, framing these within a socio-ecological model. Semi-structured interviews with health service providers (n = 13), and a thematic analysis of these data, has identified particular challenges for rural communities and their health services during extreme heat. The findings draw attention to the social impacts of extreme heat in rural communities, the protective factors (independence, social support, education, community safety), and challenges for adaptation (vulnerabilities, infrastructure, community demographics, housing and local industries). With temperatures increasing across South Australia, there is a need for local planning and low-cost strategies to address heat-exacerbating factors in rural communities, to minimise the impact of extreme heat in the future.