Environmental responsibility in hospital care: Findings from a qualitative study
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CitationKallio, Hanna. Pietilä, Anna-Maija. Johnson, Martin. Kangasniemi, Mari. (2018). Environmental responsibility in hospital care: Findings from a qualitative study. Journal of hospital administration, 7 (5) , 56-69. 10.5430/jha.v7n5p56.
Objective: To identify the key elements of environmental responsibility in hospital care and the stakeholders involved.
Background: Hospital care causes a significant global environmental burden, which threatens human health and wellbeing. Environmental responsibility has been identified as an essential part of patient care with regard to health promotion and wellbeing of humans, but it has often been regarded as a secondary issue in hospitals. In addition, the lack of organizational structures and administrative as well as managerial support inhibit the promotion of environmental responsibility in hospitals.
Methods: We used a qualitative study with semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Our data was drawn from the environmental managers of five Finnish university hospitals and documents on their environmental programs.
Results: We found that the aim of environmental responsibility in hospital care was to avoid unnecessary emissions, and that it was guided by the authorities and by ethical values. It included targets for sustainable use of material, electricity, water and transport. Environmental responsibility required the involvement of several stakeholders, including administrators, environmental manager, immediate leaders, environmental support people, staff and patients. Implementation of environmental responsibility was promoted by collaboration, education, diverse initiatives to motivate staff, and continuously developing practices.
Conclusions: Environmental responsibility extended throughout a hospital organization. Staff was in a key position to implement it, but they needed versatile organizational support, including education, clear procedures, defined roles, and a motivational culture and facilities.
Implications for hospital management: This study yields new knowledge that will provide information for the development of organisational structures with respect to environmental responsibility in hospital care.