Document Type : Original Article


1 Health in Emergency and Disaster Research Center, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Health in Emergency and Disaster Research Center, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran Department of Clinical Science and Education, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden,

3 Rehabilitation Research Center, Department of Rehabilitation Management

4 Department of Anesthesiology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


BACKGROUND: Risk perception is an important predictor to mitigate climate change effects which
can produce mental health consequences such as anxiety and depression. For developing policies
of climate risk adaptation, awareness of public attitudes, beliefs, and perception is essential. At this
study, researchers tried to focus on the often “unseen” psychological aspects of climate change.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A qualitative approach was done with a consistent content analysis
method. The study consisted of 33 participants including ordinary people and experts in disasters
and climate change. Purposeful sampling was adopted until data saturation. The data collection was
performed through in‑depth and semi‑structured interviews. All interviews were transcribed after
listening again and again and reading several times to catch an overall understanding of the interviews.
RESULTS: The main theme of the study was “Complexity nature of climate change risk perception”
and related categories including “the Mental health dimension,” “the Cognitive dimension” and
“Interaction of imposed components.” The structure of the research community strongly reflected
effects of cultural and religious factors in all aspects of community life. Participants’ life experiences
of extreme events were associated to their perception of climate change.
CONCLUSIONS: Risk perception is multifactorial and complicate and should clearly be understood to
improve community participation to manage climate change‑related risks. We propose that authorities
and related managers should pay attention to it as a priority. This may assist in developing research
on public mental health practices.


1. Van der Linden S. The social‑psychological determinants of
climate change risk perceptions: Towards a comprehensive model.
J Environ Psychol 2015;41:112‑24.
2. Akerlof K, Maibach EW, Fitzgerald D, Cedeno AY, Neuman A.
Do people “personally experience” global warming, and if so
how, and does it matter? Global Environ Change 2013;23:81‑91.
3. Nations United. Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development; 2015. Available from: https://www. [Last cited on 2019 Feb 06].
4. UNISDR. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
2015‑2030; 2015. Available from: [Last cited
on 2019 Jul 10].
5. Niemeyer S, Petts J, Hobson K. Rapid climate change and society:
Assessing responses and thresholds. Risk Anal 2005;25:1443‑56.
6. BeckenS, LamaAK, Espiner S. The cultural context of climate change
impacts: Perceptions among community members in the Annapurna
Conservation Area, Nepal. Environ Develop 2013;8:22‑37.
7. Xie B, Brewer MB, Hayes BK, McDonaldRI, Newell BR. Predicting
climate change risk perception and willingness to act. J Environ
Psychol 2019;65:101331.1
8. Patt AG, Schröter D. Perceptions of climate risk in Mozambique:
Implications for the success of adaptation strategies. Global
Environ Change 2008;18:458‑67.
9. Jones L, Boyd E. Exploring social barriers to adaptation: insights
from Western Nepal. Global Environ Change 2011;21:1262‑74.
10. Whitmarsh L. Scepticism and uncertainty about climate change:
Dimensions, determinants and change over time. Global Environ
Change 2011;21:690‑700.
11. Bickerstaff K. Risk perception research: Socio‑cultural perspectives
on thepublicexperience of air pollution. Environ Int 2004;30:827‑40.
12. Fang SC, Yu TY. A risk perception model of climate change for
university students. J Baltic Sci Educ 2015;14.
13. Azizi T, Zamani GH. Farmers’ agricultural risk perception in
facing the climate change: The case of Marvdasht township, Fars
province. Promot Sci Educ Agricult 1392;9:53‑41.
14. Salehi S, Nejad ZP, Mahmoudi H, Burkart S. Knowledge of global
climate change: View of Iranian university students. Int Res
Geographical Environ Educ 2016;25:226‑43.
15. Hayes K, Blashki G, Wiseman J, Burke S, Reifels L. Climate change
and mentalhealth:Risks, impacts and priority actions. Int J Ment
Health Syst 2018;12:28.
16. Pidgeon N. Climate change risk perception and communication:
Addressing a critical moment? Risk Analysis Int J 2012;32:951‑6.
17. Lowe T, Brown K, Dessai S, de França Doria M, Haynes K,
Vincent K. Does tomorrow ever come? Disaster narrative and
public perceptions of climate change. Public Understanding Sci
18. Leiserowitz AA, Kates RW, Parris TM. Do global attitudes and
behaviors support sustainable development? Environment
19. Sakurai R, Jacobson SK, Kobori H, Primack R, Oka K, Komatsu N,
et al. Culture and climate change: Japanese cherry blossom
festivals and stakeholders’ knowledge and attitudes about global
climate change. Biol Conservat 2011;144:654‑8.
20. Sunstein CR. Risk and Reason: Safety, Law, and the Environment:
Cambridge University Press. First Published; 2002.
21. Available from:
3d. [Last cited on 2019 Aug 10].
22. Buys L, Miller E, van Megen K. Conceptualising climate change
in rural Australia: Community perceptions, attitudes and (in)
actions. Region Environ Change 2012;12:237‑48.
23. Shi J, Visschers VH, Siegrist M, Arvai J. Knowledge as a driver
of public perceptions about climate change reassessed. Nature
Climate Change 2016;6:759.
24. Cooper S, Hutchings P, Butterworth J, Joseph S, Kebede A,
Parker A, et al. Environmental associated emotional distress and
the dangers of climate change for pastoralist mental health. Global
Environ Change 2019;59:101994.1‑9
25. Weber EU. Experience‑based and description‑based perceptions
of long‑term risk: Why global warming does not scare us (yet).
Climatic Change 2006;77:103‑20.
26. Haworth EA. The role of public health in climate change and
sustainability: Whatshouldthe Australian public health response
be? Aust N Z J Public Health 2014;38:311‑3.
27. Howe PD, Markowitz EM, Lee TM, Ko CY, Leiserowitz A. Global
perceptions of local temperature change. Nature Climate Change
28. Joireman J, Barnes Truelove H, Duell B. Effect of outdoor
temperature, heat primes and anchoring on belief in global
warming. J Environ Psychol 2010;30:358‑67.
29. Brody SD, Zahran S, Vedlitz A, Grover H. Examining the
relationship between physical vulnerability and public
perceptions of global climate change in the United States. Environ
Behav 2008;40:72‑95.
30. Latest Data on Iran: Surge in Social Media Use 2017. Available
latest‑data‑on‑iran‑surge‑in‑social‑media‑use. [Last cited on 2019
Aug 18].
31. Sociological Study of the Cultural Capital Impact on Students’
Religious Lifestyle (Case Study of Mazandaran University
Students). Sociology of Social Institutions; 2018. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Oct 06].
32. Adger WN, Barnett J, Brown K, Marshall N, O’Brien K. Cultural
dimensions of climate change impacts and adaptation. Nature
Climate Change 2013;3:112‑7.
33. BygA, SalickJ. Local perspectives on a global phenomenon‑Climate
change in Eastern Tibetan villages. Global Environ Change