The mental health of farmers.

Rural Mental Health Research, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.
Occupational Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.47). 01/2003; 52(8):471-6. DOI: 10.1093/occmed/52.8.471
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Farmers are subject to a number of unique occupational stressors, many of which have been aggravated in recent years by changes in farming practice and by economic factors. These are probably part of the explanation for the high rates of suicide in farmers and farm workers, which in the UK account for the largest number of suicides in any occupational group. Suicide is usually associated with mental illness, which, in farming communities, appears to be particularly stigmatized and poorly understood. This affects health-seeking behaviour, which is compounded by the geographical isolation and inaccessibility of many services in rural areas. Our current understanding of these issues suggests a number of potentially valuable interventions.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Exposure to pesticides has been associated with psychiatric problems among farm workers, although there is still controversy as to chemical types, intensity and forms of exposure that represent risk factors for neuropsychological problems. Furthermore, tobacco workers are exposed to dermal absorption of nicotine, although its effect on mental health has not yet been studied. Objectives: To identify the prevalence of minor psychiatric disorders (MPD) among tobacco farmers and associated factors, paying special attention to pesticide and nicotine exposure. Methods: This is a cross-sectional study with a representative sample of tobacco growers, characterizing economic indicators of the farms, socio-demographic factors, lifestyle habits and occupational exposures. Multivariate analysis was performed using a hierarchical Poisson regression model. Results: A total of 2400 tobacco farmers were assessed and MPD prevalence was 12%. MPD was higher among women (PR 1.4), workers aged 40 or over, tenants/employees (PR 1.8) and those who reported having difficulty in paying debts (PR 2.0). Low socioeconomic status was inversely associated with MPD prevalence. Tasks involving dermal exposure to pesticides showed risk varying between 35% and 71%, whereas tobacco growers on farms using organophosphates had 50% more risk of MPD than those not exposed to this kind of pesticide. The number of pesticide poisoning and green tobacco sickness episodes showed linear association with MPD. Conclusions: The study reinforces the evidence of the association between pesticide poisoning and mental health disorders. It also points to increased risk of MPD from low socioeconomic status, dermal pesticide exposure as well as from exposure to organophosphates. Furthermore, the study reveals intense nicotine exposure as a risk for tobacco farmers' mental health. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    NeuroToxicology 05/2014; 45. DOI:10.1016/j.neuro.2014.05.002 · 3.05 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: An association may exist between pesticide exposure and suicide. We sought to evaluate the existence of an association between pesticide use and suicide using data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a prospective cohort study of licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses in Iowa and North Carolina. Via linkage to state mortality files and the National Death Index, we identified 110 suicides occurring between enrollment in the AHS (from 1993 to 1997) and 31 May 2009, among 81,998 cohort members contributing 1,092,943 person-years of follow-up. The average length of follow-up was 13.3 years. AHS participants provided data on pesticide use and potential confounders via self-administered questionnaires at enrollment. We evaluated several measures of pesticide use: use of any pesticide, ever use of 50 specific pesticides, cumulative lifetime days of use and intensity-adjusted cumulative lifetime days of use of 22 specific pesticides, and ever use of 10 functional and chemical classes of pesticides. We used Cox proportional hazards regression models to estimate adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals. After adjusting for age at enrollment, sex, number of children in family, frequency of alcohol consumption during the past 12 months, and smoking status, we found no association between prior pesticide use and suicide in applicators and their spouses. Results were the same for applicators and spouses together or for applicators alone and were consistent across several measures of pesticide use. Our findings do not support an association between moderate pesticide use and suicide.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 07/2011; 119(11):1610-5. DOI:10.1289/ehp.1103413 · 7.03 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of work-related physical and psychosocial exposure and health symptoms of farm staff working in indoor loose-housing dairy systems in Sweden, and to examine possible associations between exposure and health symptoms of farm staff and disease incidence in their dairy herds. A sample of 41 farm owners or managers and 20 directly employed farm workers participated, each from a Swedish dairy farm with loose-housed cows. Mailed questionnaires comprising 29 questions were used to create four separate indices representing physical exposure, psychosocial exposure, physical symptoms, and psychosocial symptoms. Cow herd incidence rates of common veterinary-reported clinical diseases were calculated based on official records. Partial Spearman rank correlation was used to analyze associations. The study confirmed that physical and psychosocial exposure and health symptoms are not uncommon among owners/managers and employed workers. The study also found that farm owners/managers experience more physical symptoms in dairy herds with lower cow disease incidence rates, while more frequent or intensive exposure to negative psychosocial work environment factors among employed dairy workers is associated with a high herd disease incidence rate.
    Journal of agricultural safety and health 04/2011; 17(2):111-25. DOI:10.13031/2013.36496


Available from