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J Agromedicine. 2008;13(1):49-58. doi: 10.1080/10599240802055879.

Behavior change, environmental hazards and respiratory protection among a southern farm community.

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  • 1Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, Louisiana 70402, USA.


The agricultural industry ranks as one of the most dangerous in terms of occupational deaths and injuries. A wide variety of respiratory illnesses can result from the exposure to grain and organic dusts and working in animal confinement facilities and barns. This article analyzes the Transtheoretical Model of Change for implications relevant to health promotion and education. This study explored differences of perception of occupational health, environmental exposures, and stages of change consistent with the readiness to take action and the confidence to act toward respiratory health among farmers who report respiratory symptoms with physical activity and those who do not. A convenience sample of 123 farm owners and agricultural employees recruited from community-based agricultural events in southeast and central Louisiana completed three surveys: (a) Health Risk and Environmental Assessment; (b) Identification of Respiratory Mask Use; (c) Stage of Awareness and Preventive Respiratory Health; and demographic information. Subjects performed pulmonary function tests including three Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) maneuvers while connected to a Renaissance spirometer. Even though the majority of subjects rated themselves in action stage of change, subjects reported using respiratory protective devices less than 10% of the time. No significant differences were found in environmental exposures. Using chi-square analysis, those farmers who reported breathlessness were significantly more likely to report fatigue, chest pain, and dizziness. Those farmers who report breathlessness are significantly less likely to perceive respiratory health as important compared to other occupational illnesses/conditions. There is a need for additional studies to further examine the relationship between respiratory symptoms, exposure risks, and behavior change theory.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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