Agricultural Medicine: The Missing Component of the Rural Health Movement

  • Donham, Kelley J.;
  • Mutel, Cornelia F.


In recent years, a great deal of effort has gone into improving the health care of rural populations. In most instances, efforts have been narrow in scope, concentrating on one problem (accessibility of health care), and on a few segments of the rural population (economic, social, and racial minorities). The term "Rural Health Movement" frequently is equated with attempts to improve health care delivery to these subpopulations.

We contend that a true rural health movement must not be narrow in scope, but instead must attempt to deal with the numerous health problems of a broad spectrum of rural subgroups. In particular, we consider the occupational and environmental aspects of health needs of the large agricultural subgroup, defining the clinical, preventive, and community health aspects of these problems as "agricultural medicine". Members of the agricultural subgroups have been heretofore ignored in organized health efforts unless they happened to be a member of a social, racial, or economic minority group. Members of the agricultural population daily encounter a variety of occupational and environmental health hazards, such as toxic chemicals and zoonotic infectious agents. Many of these hazards are unique to the agricultural population. The health status of the agricultural subgroup is poorer than is commonly believed. If a true improvement in the health of this population is to be realized, then clinical, preventive, and community health aspects of their problems all must be dealt with. We must develop systematic way of educating health care providers about these problems, as well as develop new types of health care programs for rural areas.


SOURCE: Oakdale, Iowa: University of Iowa; [1979?]. n.p.


This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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