Pilot: Development of a Work Stress Survey for Farmworkers

Principal Investigator: Diane Rohlman, PhD  
Associate Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health
University of Iowa
PNASH Pilot Project 2011-2012
Workers in jobs with high work demands and low personal control exhibit physiological stress responses. Many factors impact the health of agricultural workers, including workplace hazards, exposure to chemicals, limited resources, and limited access to medical care. Seasonal variations in work demand can also lower their control over the work environment. This can increase the risk for adverse health effects in workers, which can then impact their families. The goal of this project was to develop methods to assess workplace stress in agricultural workers and to identify stressors faced by agricultural families. This project built upon the work begun in the PNASH project “Neurobehavioral Assessment of Pesticide Exposure in Children” by continuing to study its cohort of agricultural workers and families. The project developed a culturally appropriate questionnaire to assess workplace stress in agricultural workers and enhanced to our understanding of the role that occupational stress has on the health and well being of agricultural workers and their families. This survey tool is being used in the follow-up project, Impact of Workplace Stress on Health in Farmworker Families.
This study makes several contributions to our understanding of the role occupational stress has on the health and safety of agricultural workers and their families. The results of the study show that both men and women reported experiencing depressive symptoms. Compared to low work-demand periods, during high work-demand periods, including during harvest times, both men and women reported increased stress and an increase in unhealthy habits, such as consuming more fast food and drinks with added sugar. Over all seasons, women reported lower support and control over their job, compared with men.
Women, compared with men, also reported more stress that was associated with conflicts between work and home. These conflicts, among both men and women, increased during high work-demand times relative to low work-demand periods. Through health assessments and interviews, this project has developed a set of tools to evaluate factors related to occupational stress among Latino/a agricultural workers. 
This feasibility project informed the methods for a 3-year PNASH study entitled Impact of Workplace Stress on Health in Farmworker Families, which was based out of the NIOSH Total Worker Health® Center at Oregon Health Sciences. Based on community and industry input, this project adapted training and wellness programs to pilot a new Total Worker Health®
(TWH) intervention to reduce stress for Latino agricultural workers.
Partners and Advisories
Department of Psychology, Portland State University 
Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, Oregon Health Sciences University
Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers
TePoel M, Rohlman D, Shaw M. The impact of work demand and gender on occupational and psychosocial stress in Hispanic Farmworkers. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 2017;23(2):109-123. DOI: 10.13031/jash.11753. Epub 2017 April 26. PubMed PMID:29140633; PMCID: PMC Journal - In Process.