Acute and Chronic Disability among U.S. Farmers and Pesticide Applicators: The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Caban, Jr., Alberto Caban,;
  • Fleming, Lora E.;
  • Gómez-Marín, Orlando;
  • Jané, Dulce;
  • LeBlanc, William;
  • Lee, David J.;
  • Ma, Fangchao;
  • Pitman, Terry;
  • Zheng, Diane


The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is a multipurpose household survey of the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population conducted annually since 1957. From 1986 to 1994, over 450,000 U.S. workers, age 18 years and older, participated in a probability sampling of the entire non-institutionalized U.S. population; variables collected included a range of measures of acute and chronic disability. The objective of the present study was to assess predictors of health status, and acute and chronic disability for farmers and pesticide applicators (pesticide-exposed workers) compared to all other U.S. workers using the 1986-1994 NHIS. After adjustment for sample weights and design effects using SUDAAN, several measures of acute and chronic disability and health status were modeled with multiple logistic regression. Farmers (N = 9576) were significantly older compared to all other U.S. workers (N = 453,219) and pesticide applicators (N = 180). Farmers and pesticide applicators had a higher proportion of males, whites, and Hispanics and were less educated. After adjusting for age, gender, race-ethnicity, and education, compared to all other workers, farmers were significantly less likely to report acute and chronic disability and health conditions, while pesticide applicators were more likely to report chronic disability, health conditions, and poor health. Given the cross-sectional nature of the data and the significant job demands of farming, both leading to a relative healthy worker effect, the present results indicate that at any point in time, farmers report less acute and chronic disability, compared to other U.S. workers, whereas pesticide applicators report similar or poorer health.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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