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J Agromedicine. 2011 Oct;16(4):251-60. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2011.605722.

Depressive symptoms and sleepiness among Latino farmworkers in eastern North Carolina.

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  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.


Depression and sleepiness are both risk factors for occupational accidents and unintentional injury. Relatively little is known about the experiences of these risk factors in the immigrant Latino farmworker population. This analysis uses prospective panel data from a sample of Latino farmworkers in eastern North Carolina that were collected at monthly intervals during the 2008 agricultural season to (1) describe depressive symptoms and daytime sleepiness among immigrant Latino farmworkers across the agricultural season; (2) delineate associations of depressive symptoms with sleepiness across time; and (3) determine whether depressive symptoms precede sleepiness, or if sleepiness precedes depressive symptoms. Results indicated that 45% of farmworkers experienced elevated depressive symptoms across the season, whereas 20% experienced elevated sleepiness. Elevated depressive symptoms were more common among farmworkers living in barracks, and less common among those living in trailers. Sleepiness was more common among women than men. There was no evidence that depressive symptoms contributed to sleepiness, or that sleepiness contributed to depressive symptoms. The pattern of results suggests that a substantial proportion of Latino farmworkers experience levels of depressive symptoms or sleepiness that places them at risk for occupational accident or unintentional injury. The results also suggest that depressive symptoms and sleepiness do not cause each other; rather, the association of depressive symptoms with sleepiness hints at the possibility of a common physiologic mechanism such as circadian disruption.

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