Health Indicators of a Cohort of Midwest Farmers: Health Outcomes of Participants in the Certified Safe Farm Program

Kelley J. Donham, Shannon M. Meppelink, Kevin M. Kelly, Diane S. Rohlman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Occupational illness, injury, and fatality rates for those working in production agriculture are higher than in any other industry. A potential risk factor contributing to occupational injuries across all industries is acute or chronic co-morbidity (e.g., obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol), and related health issues that increase the risk for an occupational injury or illness. These chronic health conditions have been associated not only with increased risk for injuries, but also higher health-care costs, and greater absenteeism. Certified Safe Farm (CSF) is a comprehensive intervention program aimed to reduce occupational health and safety hazards and to promote general health among farmers. Prior publications have described CSF program efforts to reduce hazardous exposures, disabling injuries, organic dust toxic syndrome, occupational health-care costs, and to increase positive occupational health behaviors. This paper reports on the general health indicators of a cohort of 438 Iowa farm owner/operators enrolled in the CSF program. Overall, this study found that the farming population in Iowa has higher body mass index (BMI), but lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and lower prevalence of hypertension compared to the general population. There was evidence that the combination of high blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI were related to increased injury rates. Poor self-reported health status was also related to increased injuries but was not related to clinical health indicators. The CSF intervention led to improvements on health outcomes, particularly among those in the 35 to 49 age group. Little research has focused on the individual’s general health status as a predictor of risk of occupational injury. This study suggests the need for additional research and interventions integrating occupational safety and health prevention along with health promotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-238
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture
  • farmer health status
  • occupational injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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