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General health status and epidemiologic considerations in studying migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

Schenker MB
Agricultural health and safety: workplace, environment, sustainability. McDuffie HH, Dosman JA, Semchuk KM, Olenchock SA, Senthilselvan A, eds. Boca Raton, FL: Lewis Publishers, 1995 Apr; :471-477
General principles to consider when conducting studies of the general health status and occupational health hazards of migrant and seasonal farm workers were reviewed. The McFarland Child Health Survey Project (CHSP) was performed by the California Department of Health Services because of a cluster of cancer cases detected in children living in McFarland, a farming community in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. Approximately 75% of the McFarland residents were of Hispanic origin and spoke the Spanish language at home. The CHSP interviewed parents and examined 1,744 children, representing 92% of the children living in McFarland at the time. Most of the subjects experienced substantial differences obtaining health care, with almost half having no health insurance and 21% being covered by a state health program for low income families. Approximately 40% of the subjects reported barriers to receiving medical care, the most important barrier being cost. A major finding of the CHSP was the relative deficiency in preventive health care, manifested by the fact that 71% of the children had medical problems indicative of a lack of medical care. Obtaining accurate estimates of the agricultural worker population is difficult because of the seasonal and geographical movement of the worker population, the lack of an extensive system of health care which makes disease ascertainment difficult, and the lack of a standardized data collection instrument. Cross sectional and descriptive studies, case control studies, and prospective studies of migrant and seasonal farm workers were discussed. The author concludes that preventive health study efforts aimed at migrant and seasonal farm workers are long overdue, since this group provides over 80% of the farm labor in some locations.
NIOSH-Cooperative-Agreement; Agricultural-workers; Seasonal-activity; Demographic-characteristics; Epidemiology; Humans; Occupational-health-services; Health-surveys; Disease-prevention;
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
McDuffie HH; Dosman JA; Semchuk KM; Olenchock SA; Senthilselvan A
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Source Name
Agricultural health and safety: workplace, environment, sustainability
Performing Organization
University of California - Davis
Page last reviewed: March 4, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division