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Rural health care providers' educational needs related to agricultural exposures.

Mazza JJ; Lee BC; Gunderson PD; Stueland DT
J Agric Saf Health 1997 Nov; 3(4):207-215
A survey of educational needs of rural health care providers was conducted. The study was part of a project designed to improve the ability of rural health care providers to diagnose, treat, and consult with persons with agriculture related health problems (ARHP). The study group consisted of 1,237 rural care providers consisting of physicians, registered nurses (RNs), physician assistants (PAs), chiropractors, and veterinarians, 70% of whom were male, 30 to 49 years old, who practiced in rural areas of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The subjects completed a questionnaire to identify their degree of interaction with patients or clients having specific ARHP, the physicians' perception of their competency in diagnosing and treating ARHP, to assess the availability of patient education and professional training resources regarding ARHP, to identify educational resources used by the subjects, determine preferred continuing education methods and sites of the subjects, and to evaluate perceived barriers to continuing education participation (CEP). Problems resulting from heavy lifting, exposure to machinery and livestock, and respiratory hazards were the conditions most frequently encountered by the subjects. Physicians felt most competent diagnosing traumatic injuries and back pain. They felt least competent diagnosing conditions related to pesticide, noxious gas, and volatile organic chemical (VOC) exposures or zoonotic illnesses. Nurse, PAs, and chiropractors who were asked about that availability of patient education materials reported that textbooks and journals were their most commonly used reference sources. Less than half of RNs reported adequate resources for work related back injuries, while nearly 75% of chiropractors reported these resources were adequate. Most subjects reported adequate resources regarding alcohol and substance abuse and skin cancer. Few resources dealing with noxious gas or VOC exposures were readily available. Family and professional obligations and the cost and difficulty obtaining practice coverage were major barriers to CEP participation. The authors conclude that this population of rural health care providers has limited access to professional educational materials and training resources. There is a need for state and federal interventions to provide expanded and comprehensive resources and educational opportunities for rural health care providers.
NIOSH-Cooperative-Agreement; Agriculture; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Health-care-personnel; Questionnaires; Agricultural-industry; Nurses; Author Keywords: Agricultural health; Occupational medicine; Rural health; Agricultural exposure; Needs assessment
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Marshfield Medical Research & Education Foundation
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division