Communicating health research (128) Health and climate change: an editorial (6)

4 November, 2022

Neil asks what our project tells us about communicating health research to policymakers.

In fact, the simultaneous publication of an editorial on health and climate change by over 250 journals highlights the fact that there has been relatively little discussion of climate change in biomedical journals over recent years. Working with Richard Smith, Joy Muhia of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has been examining the publication history of biomedical journals in this respect and will be publishing her findings in due course.

Here are a couple of the leading questions asked about the communication aspects of the project:

What benefit is there for lots of journals to publish the same editorial?

The point of having so many journals publish is to show the weight of our concern. The more journals participating, the greater the perceived impact. The fact of publication itself becomes a media story. COP27 is being held in Africa. The new editorial points out that Africa has done the least to cause the climate crisis, but stands to suffer the most as a result of it. Over 50 leading African journals are publishing this editorial, an unparalleled collaborative effort.

Numerous publishing groups joined the project en masse – most of the journals published by the BMJ, JAMA, Lancet, OUP and Wiley signed up. The fact of massive participation can have an impact where it is most needed – at the public – and therefore the political – level. A large public relations effort is associated with this project, stressing that it is time for action now.

How is climate change relevant to specific conditions – dermatology, veterinary medicine, palliative care?

In fact, climate change has a powerful impact on all health conditions. Since health-related journals have on the whole published very little about climate change factors, some of the journals publishing our editorial are also including a second comment from the editor showing how the topic is specifically related to the subject matter of the journal. It might be an idea to publish a compendium of such comments.


Chris Zielinski

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HIFA Profile: As a Visiting Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Global Health, University of Winchester, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme, which supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. He is the elected Vice President (and President-in-Waiting) of the World Association of Medical Editors. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. He served on WHO's Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. He also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. Chris has been a director of the UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). chris AT His publications are at and and his blogs are and