Student Research: Elizabeth K. Hom

, Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH), 2006
Faculty Advisor: Matthew C. Keifer

Analysis of Environmental and Occupational Health Concerns in Key Informant Interviews with Community Advisory Board (CAB) Members of El Proyecto Bienestar


Abstract

El Proyecto Bienestar (The Well-Being Project) is a community-based research project that is concerned with environmental justice. El Proyecto Bienestar’s primary goal is to improve the health and well-being of Hispanic agricultural workers and their families in Yakima Valley, Washington. One aim of the El Proyecto Bienestar is to identify and prioritize the environmental and occupational health concerns experienced by Hispanic agricultural workers and their families in the Yakima Valley, Washington.

This final project included qualitative data analysis of twelve key informant interviews with the Community Advisory Board (CAB) members of El Proyecto Bienestar. The CAB includes diverse group of community members from the Yakima Valley. Data analysis was performed using N6 software. Analysis of these interviews identified and organized environmental and occupational health concerns, contributing causes, and possible solutions that are important to CAB members. Key environmental and occupational health issues identified include pesticides, occupational injury, and occupational illness. In addition, CAB members emphasized social and organizational issues such as access to health care and the low socioeconomic and educational status of farmworkers. Furthermore, a central theme arising from this analysis is that CAB members view issues traditionally defined as environmental and occupational health problems as deeply connected and inseparable from social and organizational challenges faced by Hispanic agricultural workers in the Yakima Valley.

This final project also contributed to El Proyecto Bienestar’s overall goal to involve community members into a process of identifying environmental and occupational health issues. Thus, results from this analysis were integrated with other community input collected by El Proyecto Bienestar. This final project included developing strategies and materials to share and communicate this compilation of results with El Proyecto Bienestar members. Furthermore, this project also involved the development of recommendations on how these results can inform El Proyecto Bienestar’s plans for future research and community outreach efforts in the Yakima Valley. Important contextual factors to consider when designing such efforts include attitude and treatment of farmworkers, management and grower attitudes towards safety, economic pressure in the agricultural industry, and the importance of effective communication of results to the community on the part of researchers.