NINR Request for Information (RFI): Advancing Nursing Research in Climate and Health
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

September 20, 2023

Response Date:
December 01, 2023

Related Announcements

NOT-NR-24-001 - Notice to Extend Response Date for NOT-NR-23-018: "NINR Request for Information (RFI): Advancing Nursing Research in Climate and Health"

Issued by

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)


Since its establishment in 2021, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Climate Change and Health Initiative has been supporting research to reduce climate-associated health threats across the lifespan and build health resilience in individuals, communities, and nations around the world, especially among those at highest risk to climate change hazards. The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) is an active participant in this NIH-wide initiative.

With nursing’s holistic, contextualized perspective to improve health, its focus on individuals and communities, and its commitment to health equity [1], nursing science has a major role to play in understanding and mitigating the impact of climate change on health. NINR is exploring additional efforts in this area. Through this RFI, NINR is seeking comments and testimonies from the extramural scientific community, professional societies, and the general public regarding research gaps in which nursing research can make a difference and/or provide a unique perspective.


There is international scientific consensus that climate change poses burgeoning threats to human health, with projections that health risks will increase significantly in the absence of action to limit global warming. Multiple factors—such as environmental and institutional context (e.g., changes in ecosystems, land use, and infrastructure conditions); social context (e.g., poverty, education, and health care access); climate drivers (e.g., extreme weather, rising sea levels, rising temperatures); exposure pathways (e.g., poor air quality, extreme heat, reduced nutritional and water quality)–contribute to a variety of negative health consequences through complex interactions. The negative health effects associated with climate change exacerbate existing health disparities and fall disproportionately on populations that are under-resourced and/or experiencing poverty, communities of color, and others affected by structural racism and discrimination.

In 2021, the NIH Climate Change and Health Initiative was launched to support research to reduce climate-associated health threats across the lifespan and build health resilience in individuals, communities, and nations around the world, especially among those at highest risk from climate change hazards. NINR is an active participant in this NIH-wide initiative, which promotes transformative, transdisciplinary research to address health equity, intervention science, health effects research, and training and capacity building. The initiative addresses a broad range of direct [2] (e.g., heat-related illness and death; respiratory and cardiovascular conditions; food-, water- and vector-borne diseases; mental health impacts; poor maternal and birth outcomes) [3] and indirect (e.g., chemical releases into the environment, changes in air, water, and food quality and availability, population displacement, interruptions in health care access, other social determinants of health) [4] health effects of climate change. Within this landscape, NINR is seeking community input on research topics or research questions in climate and health in which nursing research can make a difference and/or provide a unique perspective.

Key Definition
Please note that the focus on the health effects of climate change is distinct from health effects from environmental exposure. Climate change-related health consequences are directly related to greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet; air pollution is an example of an environmental exposure that is not specifically associated with climate change.

Request for Information
This Request for Information (RFI) invites the scientific community, health professionals, professional societies, and the general public to provide comments on areas within the following or additional topics in climate change and health.

How to Submit a Response

Submissions should be entered in the web-based form. Please add text in response to each question at the bottom of the corresponding section. Additional response documents may also be attached.

1) Social and Structural Factors that Contribute to Health Effects of Climate Change and the Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies to Counter Them

The health effects of climate change can be amplified by structural racism and associated policies. For example, marginalized housing practices (e.g., “red-lining”) can increase climate change-related exposure to health hazards, such as extreme heat (e.g., urban heat islands, lack of adequate cooling and tree cover), worsened air quality [5], and flooding with accompanying toxic waste release. In addition, discriminatory distribution of services and resources, such as the absence of grocery stores with healthy food options and inadequate health care access, can compound the climate change-related exacerbation of chronic conditions [6]. On a broader scale, global and local food systems are in immediate threat from the effects of climate change (e.g., crop yields, marine health), which will increase nutritional insecurity [4]. Strategies to enhance the resiliency of disadvantaged communities in the face of climate change might include infrastructure enhancements to reduce flooding and heat islands and support cooling systems (i.e., strengthen the electric grid). Research to characterize negative effects of climate change and evaluate implementation of policies would provide important information for development of future policies and actions.

Potential topics

  • Researching unintended health threats from climate mitigation strategies and policies in transportation, energy, agricultural, health care, and other sectors.
  • Identifying health effects of climate change that are exacerbated by health disparities, poverty, and climate migration, and developing evidence-based solutions for them.
  • Studying interventions to address social determinants of health that increase susceptibility to climate change impacts on health and/or modify the effectiveness of responses to climate-related events. 
  • Studying the impact of climate change on health care access, health care systems (e.g., supply chains, infrastructure), and developing adaptations to health care systems (e.g., dialysis, chemotherapy, prenatal care, assistance for people with disabilities) in the wake of climate-related disasters (e.g., flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, extreme heat, winter storms, wildfires).

Where can nursing research make a difference and/or provide a unique perspective regarding social and structural factors that contribute to health effects of climate change, and mitigation and adaptation responses?

2) Individual, Population, and Community Factors in the Context of Climate Change that Create Associated Health Challenges and Relevant Solutions

In addition to policies and structural conditions that amplify the negative health effects of climate change in vulnerable populations, individual and community factors have a role. Some of these populations are less resilient and more sensitive to climate-associated effects, and communities have differing capacities to address climate-associated health risks [7]. A better understanding of these multi-level factors would contribute to the development of effective solutions.

Potential topics

  • Evaluating how environmental exposures caused by climate change may influence an individual’s health.
  • Identifying interventions that can reduce negative health effects on population groups with disproportionate exposure to poor air quality.
  • Creating communication strategies about the health risks of climate change in collaboration with community members and health workers.

Where can nursing research make a difference and/or provide a unique perspective about individual, population, and community factors regarding climate change that create associated health challenges and relevant solutions?

3) Opportunities to Counteract Negative Health Effects of Climate Change

As the health effects of climate change become more apparent, a wide range of participants from research, health care, public, and private sectors can contribute to the solution. Building awareness of health risks (particularly for vulnerable and underserved populations) among health care professionals, adaptation of environmental early warning systems [5], and modification of ongoing research programs present opportunities. Partnerships and collaborations across disciplines will enhance future endeavors.

Potential topics

  • Investigating, developing, and testing approaches to prepare and build resiliency for those most affected by the effects of climate change (e.g., extreme heat, flooding, wildfires, drought).
  • Studying the health co-benefits of climate-directed mitigation strategies associated within the built environment and infrastructure (e.g., urban planning, green spaces, cooling centers, enhanced public transportation options, improved agricultural practices, nutritional policies) on individuals and communities.
  • Studying interventions to respond to climate emergencies/disasters in the wide variety of settings where nurses practice.
  • Investigating the unique role that community health workers (including community nurses) can play in communicating the health risks of climate change, evaluating health needs of community members, and building cooperative health interventions with community members in the context of climate change effects.

Where can nursing research make a difference and/or provide a unique perspective regarding approaches to counteracting the negative health effects of climate change?

4) Other Topics in Climate and Health Research

What are additional topic areas in climate and health research in which nursing research can make a difference and/or provide a unique perspective?


Responses must be received by 11:59:59 pm (ET) on 11/03/2023 through the NIH web-based form:

This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or an obligation of the federal government, the National Institutes of Health, or individual NIH Institutes or Centers. Responses to this RFI Notice are voluntary. The NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion. NIH will analyze the information submitted and may share it internally or in reports. The information may or may not be reflected in future solicitations, as appropriate and at the government's discretion. NIH advises respondents that the government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information provided and will not provide feedback to respondents. The federal government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the government's use. NIH will not consider submitted information confidential. Additionally, the government cannot guarantee the confidentiality of the information provided.


  1. National Institute of Nursing Research. NINR 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. 
  2. Crimmins, A., J. Balbus, J.L. Gamble, C.B. Beard, J.E. Bell, D. Dodgen, R.J. Eisen, N. Fann, M.D. Hawkins, S.C. Herring, L. Jantarasami, D.M. Mills, S. Saha, M.C. Sarofim, J. Trtanj, and L. Ziska., The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, in National Climate Assessment, U.S.G.C.R. Program, Editor. 2016.
  3. Roos, N., et al., Maternal and newborn health risks of climate change: A call for awareness and global action. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 2021. 100(4): p. 566-570.
  4. Watts, N., et al., The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises. Lancet, 2021. 397(10269): p. 129-170.
  5. Haines, A. and K. Ebi, The Imperative for Climate Action to Protect Health. N Engl J Med, 2019. 380(3): p. 263-273.
  6. Nogueira, L., et al., The Role of Behavioral Medicine in Addressing Climate Change-Related Health Inequities. Transl Behav Med, 2022. 12(4): p. 526-534.
  7. Tong, S. and K. Ebi, Preventing and mitigating health risks of climate change. Environ Res, 2019. 174: p. 9-13.


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