Living conditions and mental wellness in a changing climate and environment: Focus on community voices and perceived environmental and adaptation factors in Greenland

Ulla Timlin, Jón Haukur Ingimundarson, Leneisja Jungsberg, Sofia Kauppila, Joan Nymand Larsen, Tanja Nordstrom, Johanna Scheer, Peter Schweitzer, Arja Rautio

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Abstract

Background
Climate change is a major global challenge, especially for Indigenous communities. It can have extensive impacts on peoples’ lives that may occur through the living environment, health and mental well-being, and which are requiring constant adaptation.

Objectives
The overall purpose of this research was to evaluate the impacts of climate change and permafrost thaw on mental wellness in Disko Bay, Greenland. It contained two parts: multidisciplinary fieldwork and a questionnaire survey. The aim of the fieldwork was to learn about life and living conditions and to understand what it is like to live in a community that faces impacts of climate change and permafrost thaw. For the questionnaire the aim was to find out which perceived environmental and adaptation factors relate to very good self-rated well-being, quality of life and satisfaction with life.

Analysis
Fieldwork data was analyzed by following a thematic analysis, and questionnaire data statistically by cross-tabulation. First, the associations between perceived environmental and adaptation factors were studied either by the Pearson χ2 test or by Fisher's exact test. Second, binary logistic regression analysis was applied to examine more in depth the associations between perceived environmental/adaptation variables and self-rated very good well-being, satisfaction with life and quality of life. The binary logistic regression analysis was conducted in two phases: as univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results
Nature and different activities in nature were found to be important to local people, and results suggest that they increase mental wellness, specifically well-being and satisfaction with life. Challenges associated with permafrost thaw, such as changes in the physical environment, infrastructure and impacts on culture were recognized in everyday life.

Conclusions
The results offer relevant information for further plans and actions in this field of research and at the policy level. Our study shows the importance of multidisciplinary research which includes the voice of local communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere06862
JournalHeliyon
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Other keywords

  • Arctic
  • Climate change
  • Indigenous people
  • Mental wellness
  • Permafrost thaw
  • Well-being
  • Quality of life
  • Satisfaction with life

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