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Environmental Health & Environmental Sustainability

Environment as a Key Determinant of Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that a significant portion of global disease burden is due to environmental risk factors: 24% of adult and 34% of children’s health problems can be attributed to environmental factors (Pruss-Ustin, 2006).Because of the impact of environmental conditions on health across the age spectrum and around the world, WSU nurses address environmental concerns. Areas of study include:

  • Development and testing of the TERRA model (Butterfield, Postma, Oneal)
  • Development and testing of photovoice for engaging community health workers in environmental risk prevention (Postma)
  • Development of nursing education tools addressing climate change (Eide)

Environmental Impacts of Healthcare and Nursing Practice

Analyzing the ecological footprint of healthcare and nursing reveals astounding figures. Every day, hospitals produce 33 pounds of waste for every patient. Across the nation, this equates to more than 6,000 tons per day. With 3.1 million registered nurses nationwide, we have the opportunity to reduce these numbers and improve practices with the commitment of our peers. WSU College of Nursing is a leader in environmental health and environmental sustainability (EHES) in healthcare. Committed to environmentally safe practice, faculty at the college are active in related research, implementing best practices at the college, and recruiting candidates into doctoral (PhD and DNP) programs to continue advancing this field of study. WSU is committed to helping develop a future nursing workforce that understands the environmental impacts of healthcare and nursing practice, and is armed with skills and knowledge to effect change to a more environmentally sustainable healthcare system. WSU nurse scientists address the environmental impacts of healthcare and nursing practice.

  • Development and testing of the Nurses Environmental Awareness Tool (NEAT). [Schenk, Barbosa-Leiker, Butterfield, Corbett, Postma]

Leadership in Clinical Education

Washington State University educates nurses committed to delivering environmentally safe healthcare. Ironically, though nurses are keenly focused on improving health, modern healthcare including nursing practice contributes to significant environmental damage that puts health at risk. WSU nurses are leading the way to creating environmentally responsible and healthy nursing practice.Educational Materials

  1. Building an Environmental Health Curriculum
    Suggestions for weaving EHES topics into an already full nursing curriculum
  2. Videos about Environmental Health in Nursing Curriculum
    WSU-produced videos exploring faculty perceptions of including environmental health content in existing courses

Tools, Conceptual Models and Surveys

  1. Nurses’ Environmental Awareness Tool (NEAT)
    The NEAT is a psychometrically analyzed tool to measure nurses’ awareness of environmental impacts of nursing practice. It is available for use to researchers. » Learn More
  2. Conceptual EWT-E Wheel Models
    EWT-E Wheel: This simple schematic links 4 broad categories of environmental impacts of healthcare and nursing practice.
    EWT-E Shadow: This schematic identifies health risks associated with each category of environmental impact.