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AAOHN J. 2004 Nov;52(11):465-75.

Garment workers in California: health outcomes of the Asian Immigrant Women Workers Clinic.

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University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing, Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing Program, San Francisco, CA, USA.


In this cross sectional descriptive study, the demographics, risk factors, and health outcomes of a volunteer, symptomatic sample of monolingual Cantonese garment workers in the Oakland, California Chinatown area are documented. Methods included a questionnaire and clinical examination and treatment at the Asian Immigrant Women Workers Clinic, a free clinic providing culturally focused occupational health consultation and treatment for painful musculoskeletal disorders. Because garment work involves highly repetitious, sustained awkward postures, focused education on stretching and ergonomics also was provided. Results from the first 100 clients revealed a highly symptomatic sample, with an average age of 48.7 years. Sixty-six percent rated their health status as fair or poor. Sixteen percent of the sample had nerve entrapments, and 99% had a diagnosed strain or sprain of the spine or upper extremities. This population did not file workers' compensation claims because of a lack of knowledge and a fear of reprisal. This study documented the barriers to seeking care for this low wage, immigrant population.

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