Pediatrician attitudes, clinical activities, and knowledge of environmental health in Wisconsin.

Pediatricians can reduce exposures to environmental hazards but most have little training in environmental health. To assess whether Wisconsin pediatricians perceive a relative lack of self-efficacy for common environmental exposures and diseases of environmental origin, we assessed their attitudes and beliefs about the role of the environment in children’s health. A 4-page survey was sent to the membership of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We obtained a 35.4% response rate after 1 follow-up mailing. Respondents agreed that the role of the environment in children’s health is significant (mean 4.28 +/- .78 on 1-5 Likert scale). They expressed high confidence in dealing with lead exposure (means 4.22-4.27 +/- 1.01-1.09), but confidence in their skills for pesticide, mercury, and mold was much lower (means 2.49-3.09 +/- 1.06-1.26; P<.001). Of those surveyed, 88.6% would refer patients to a clinic “where pediatricians could refer patients for clinical evaluation and treatment of their environmental health concerns.” These findings indicate that Wisconsin pediatricians agree that children are suffering preventable illnesses of environmental origin, but feel ill equipped to educate families about many common exposures. Significant demand exists for centers that can evaluate environmental health concerns, as well as for educational opportunities.