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Exploring anaesthetists' views on the carbon footprint of anaesthesia and identifying opportunities and challenges for reducing its impact on the environment.

A shift in practice by anaesthetists away from anaesthetic gases with high global warming potential towards lower emission techniques (e.g. total intravenous anaesthesia) could result in significant carbon savings for the health system. The purpose of this qualitative interview study was to understand anaesthetists' perspectives on the carbon footprint of anaesthesia, and views on shifting practice towards more environmentally sustainable options. Anaesthetists were recruited from four hospitals in Western Sydney, Australia. Data were organised according to the capability-opportunity-motivation model of behaviour change. Twenty-eight anaesthetists were interviewed (July-September 2021). Participants' age ranged from 29 to 62 years (mean 43 years), 39% were female, and half had completed their anaesthesia training between 2010 and 2019. Challenges to the wider use of greener anaesthetic agents were identified across all components of the capability-opportunity-motivation model: capability (gaps in clinician skills and experience, uncertainty regarding research evidence); opportunity (norms, time, and resource pressures); and motivation (beliefs, habits, responsibility and guilt). Suggestions for encouraging a shift to more environmentally friendly anaesthesia included access to education and training, implementing guidelines and audit/feedback models, environmental restructuring, improving resource availability, reducing low value care, and building the research evidence base on the safety of alternative agents and their impacts on patient outcomes. We identified opportunities and challenges to reducing the carbon footprint of anaesthesia in Australian hospitals by way of system-level and individual behavioural change. Our findings will be used to inform the development of communication and behavioural interventions aiming to mitigate carbon emissions of healthcare.

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