Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices for Respiratory and Hearing Health among Midwestern Farmers

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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to assess knowledge, attitudes, and practices for hearing and respiratory health/safety among farmers in seven Midwestern states served by a federally funded Agricultural Center. Findings provided a baseline to longitudinally track the Agricultural Center's program outcomes and to design community education to improve safety and health among farmers.

Design and Sample:

This was a cross-sectional study using a 30 item mailed survey to describe farmers' operations, demographics, health conditions, related information sources, and knowledge/attitude/practices for personal protective equipment (PPE) (i.e., ear plugs/muffs and dust masks/respirators).

Measures:

Frequencies and percentages were calculated for each item and according to responses from younger versus older farmers. The unit of study was farm operators (N = 280) randomly selected from a publicly available database of corn/soybean and hog farmers in seven Midwestern states.

Results:

Findings revealed important knowledge gaps among respondents regarding (1) hazardous exposure sources; (2) long-term health consequences of noise/dust exposure; (3) proper selection/fitting of PPE.

Conclusions:

Public health nurses and primary care providers in rural communities should address specific knowledge gaps in order to enhance farmers' perceived understanding of their susceptibility to hazardous exposures. Increasing farmers' knowledge through preferred venues may help to improve PPE effectiveness.

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