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Free Content Sustainable Hospitals: A Socio-Ecological Approach

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Although sustainable development is closely interrelated with health and health promotion, in health care systems these themes are hardly ever discussed and even more rarely implemented in combination. We see opportunities for sustainable development and health promotion, particularly in hospitals, since they play a central role in health care systems. Furthermore, hospitals have significant and growing economic, social, and environmental impacts, which in turn cause adverse effects upon health. In a transdisciplinary project involving scientists and health care practitioners we examined how sustainability can be conceptualized for hospitals in line with both a socio-ecological understanding of sustainable development and with "hospitals' reality". Our approach aims at avoiding unintended long-term and side effects of health care – hospitals' core business – by expanding quality criteria for decision making to include sustainability and health gain improvement. An example demonstrates that a hospital can thereby improve its future viability and contribute to global sustainability.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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  • GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

    Environmental problems cannot be solved by one academic discipline. The complex natures of these problems require cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. Since 1991, GAIA has offered a well-balanced and practice-oriented forum for transdisciplinary research. GAIA offers first-hand information on state of the art environmental research and on current solutions to environmental problems. Well-known editors, advisors, and authors work to ensure the high quality of the contributions found in GAIA and a unique transdisciplinary dialogue – in a comprehensible style.

    GAIA is an ISI-journal, listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index and in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    All contributions undergo a double-blind peer review.

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