Stress in New Zealand farmers

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This was a cross-sectional study of stress in a stratified, random sample of New Zealand farmers (n = 1015). Data were obtained on farming-specific environmental stressors, demographics and farm information. The stressor questionnaire grouped questions into seven sections; policy and procedures, finance, time pressures, hazards in farming, unpredictable factors in farming, geographical isolation, and community issues. The response rate was 60 per cent of farms. The most stressful events were ‘increased work load at peak times’, ‘dealing with workers' compensation’, ‘bad weather’, and ‘complying with health and safety legislation’. There were differences between men and women regarding stress experienced. Factor analysis found that the proposed model of farm-specific stressors fitted the data moderately well. Age, being separated or divorced, being a deer farmer, the farm not making a profit in the last year, and supervising staff were independently associated with higher stress. The study highlights certain stressful factors that may be alleviated by action by farmer and government organizations as well as rural communities, including matters to do with staffing and health and safety, and financial and community support.

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