Background: Many countries are developing or reviewing national adaptation policy for climate change but the
extent to which these meet the health needs of vulnerable groups has not been assessed. This study examines the
adequacy of such policies for nine known climate-vulnerable groups: people with mental health conditions, Aboriginal
people, culturally and linguistically diverse groups, aged people, people with disabilities, rural communities, children,
women, and socioeconomically disadvantaged people.
Methods: The study analyses an exhaustive sample of national adaptation policy documents from Annex 1
(‘developed’) countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: 20 documents from 12
countries. A ‘critical computational linguistics’ method was used involving novel software-driven quantitative mapping
and traditional critical discourse analysis.
Results: The study finds that references to vulnerable groups are relatively little present or non-existent, as well as
poorly connected to language about practical strategies and socio-economic contexts, both also little present.
Conclusions: The conclusions offer strategies for developing policy that is better informed by a ‘social determinants of
health’ definition of climate vulnerability, consistent with best practice in the literature and global policy prescriptions.
Keywords: Health adaptation policy, Health equity, Unequal health outcomes, Climate vulnerability, Social
determinants of health