The impact of climate change related extreme weather events on people with pre-existing disabilities and chronic conditions: a scoping review
People with disabilities experience a disproportionate impact of extreme weather events and there is a critical need to better understand the impact that climate change has for them. Most previous reviews focus on the risk of acquiring a new disability or injury after a climate-related event and not the impact on people with pre-existing disabilities or chronic conditions, which is the purpose of this study.
We conducted a scoping review while searching seven international databases that identified 45 studies meeting our inclusion criteria.
The studies included in our review involved 2 337 199 participants with pre-existing disabilities and chronic conditions across 13 countries over a 20-year period. The findings demonstrated the following trends: (1) the impact on physical and mental health; (2) the impact on education and work; (3) barriers to accessing health and community services (i.e., lack of access to services, lack of knowledge about people with disabilities, communication challenges, lack of adequate housing); and (4) coping strategies (i.e., social supports and connecting to resources) and resilience.
Our findings highlight the critical need for rehabilitation clinicians and other service providers to explore opportunities to support their clients in preparing for climate-related emergencies.