Professional Agricultural Health and Safety Education and Training Needs and Preferences

  • Lee, Barbara;
  • Stueland, Dean T.;
  • Gunderson, Paul D.;
  • Mazza, Joseph J.

Objective. To assess the professional competency and educational needs of rural health care providers in order to develop and disseminate relevant disease, injury, and environmental information to health care practitioners in rural and agricultural settings.

Methods. The Dillman Total Design Method for mail surveys was utilized for conducting this descriptive, correlational study. A geographically defined, systematic sampling process was applied to obtain a representative sample of medical doctors (MDs) and veterinarians (DVMs) from a midwest region of the USA. Data were collected on perceived professional competence, availability of resources, and barriers to continuing education in agricultural health.

Results. Data from MDs (n=355), RNs (n=137), PAs (n=70), DCs (n=287), and DVMs (n=388) indicated the most common exposures of their farming clientele include heavy lifting, environmental dusts or irritants, hazardous machinery, and excessive sun exposure. MDs reported greatest competence in diagnosing and treating traumatic injuries, back strain, skin cancer, and psychological disorders. MDs indicated they feel least competent in diagnosing and treating zoonotic illnesses, exposures to pesticides, noxious gases, and volatile organic chemicals. DVMs are frequently asked about zoonotic disease, pesticide exposures, and respiratory ailments but reported competence only in zoonotic diseases. Major barriers to continuing education opportunities for both groups included preference for family time, household obligations, distance to program, cost, and difficulty securing clinical coverage during absence.

Conclusions. Survey results revealed variations in professional competency and educational resources to address agricultural health problems and, thus, will guide future initiatives for educational endeavors of rural health practitioners.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The authors noted above are from: J.J. Mazza, B. Lee, P. Gunderson & D. Stueland, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield, WI.

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