Factors associated with farmers joining occupational health services

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Abstract

Background

Agriculture is one of the most hazardous occupations in the world. The aim of an occupational health service (OHS) is to reduce the risk of work-related diseases, occupational diseases and injuries and to promote workers’ health. In Finland, they are part of the public health care system, but for farmers OHS is voluntary.

Aims

To explore factors associated with farmers joining farmers’ occupational health services (FOHS). This knowledge is important for improving the coverage of FOHS and to motivate farmers to join.

Methods

In 2004 and 2005, we interviewed a total of 1182 full-time farmers aged 18–64, chosen randomly from the register of the Information Centre of the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry in Finland (Tike). A stepwise multivariate logistic regression model was used to calculate odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals for factors associated with their joining FOHS.

Results

Among both genders, chronic illnesses, farm size and opinion on whether membership of FOHS should be obligatory were predictors of farmers joining FOHS. Among male farmers, the production sector, the existence of a quality system on the farm and vocational education were associated with interest in joining. Among female farmers, interest was associated with physical activity.

Conclusions

Emphasizing FOHS constitutes a preventive approach. All farmers should be motivated by FOHS to become aware of issues concerning safety and health at work. The potential channels for increasing its awareness are vocational education, quality systems and support from farmers who are already members.

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