Student Research: Jennifer Crowe
The Latino farm worker population in the Yakima Valley of Washington State is disproportionately at risk for various environmental and occupational health injuries and health problems. A community based participatory research (CBPR) project has been undertaken in the Yakima Valley by a set of community partners including the Pacific Northwest Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (PNASH), Radio KDNA (the Yakima Valley Spanish radio station), the Yakima Valley Farm Worker Clinics, and Heritage University. The project, entitled “El Proyecto Bienestar (The Well-Being Project,) will attempt to research environmental and occupational risks as the community prioritizes them. Research is needed in order to identify issues that are important to the community as well as the full range of the factors that contribute to them.
This study focuses on key informant interviews done with members of the “Core group” who have been a part of Proyecto Bienestar since its beginning. Data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews with 12 members of the Core group. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and were analyzed using qualitative methodology aided by computer software. Key Informants listed many occupational and environmental issues of concern. The topics most often ranked as important by Key Informants were: injuries, air pollution, ergonomics, pesticides, poverty/jobs, respiratory issues, water pollution, the Hanford nuclear site, and stress. A full list of topics was created as well as a list of contributing factors arranged in an ecological framework. In addition, children’s health and family well-being emerged as important themes in the way environmental and occupational risk is understood. Further research and work of El Proyecto Bienestar must integrate all of these factors in order to effectively address occupational and environmental health for the Hispanic farm worker population in the Yakima Valley.