In Ireland, the majority of farmers are self-employed and studies have indicated higher levels of mortality in the working age category (16–65 years old) than other occupational groups. Within the discipline of health promotion, applying a broadly based ‘biopsychosocial’ approach in contrast to the more narrow ‘biomedical’ one has been advocated to achieve health gains. In Ireland a state extension system (Teagasc) is in place to provide research-supported advice and training to farmers on farming practice and associated quality of life issues. Extension has been active in promoting health among farmers in association with health professionals especially during the last decade.Methods
A retrospective review was conducted to identify major national initiatives with extension involvement to either research or promote health among farmers in Ireland. The period from 1 st January 2006 to 31 st December 2016 was used as the review reference period.Results
The survey identified nine major health promotion initiatives involving extension in Ireland in the reference period. Three involved research on the following topics: disability causes (PhD); health and musculoskeletal disorders (PhD); farmer stress (Masters). One involved inclusion of occupational health in a statutory farm health and safety code of practice. Two involved provision of training to extension staff on health promotion as a component of the national men’s health training programme (ENGAGE). One involved a series of health promotion exhibits, including blood pressure checking, at outdoor farming events. One involved the national distribution of a farmer health booklet and one involved publication of a series of extension media releases and articles on aspects of farmer’s health.Conclusion
The retrospective review has identified considerable engagement by extension with health promotion among Irish farmers. This engagement involved: research, staff training, and production of a major publication and provision of advice to farmers on health using farming media.