Development of a life events/icon calendar questionnaire to ascertain occupational histories and other characteristics of migrant farmworkers

Am J Ind Med. 2001 Nov;40(5):490-501. doi: 10.1002/ajim.1117.


Background: Specialized methods are necessary to collect data from migrant farmworkers for epidemiologic research.

Methods: We developed a questionnaire that collected lifetime occupational histories and other lifestyle risk factors via a life events/icon calendar, and administered the questionnaire to a convenience sample of 162 migrant farmworkers in nine areas of the U.S.

Results: The average duration of the interviews was about 1 h 30 min, with an average of 45 min for the work history section. The occupational histories covered a median of 27.6 years per person for men and 20.8 years per person for women. The median number of years spent in farm jobs was 11.3 for men and 5.8 for women. The median number of farm jobs (crop/task combination) per person was 59 among men and 27 among women. Many farmworkers performed the same crop/task combinations at multiple times throughout their lives, yielding a median of 13 unique farm jobs and 8 unique crops among men and 7 jobs and 5 crops among women.

Conclusions: The project demonstrated that it is feasible to collect detailed work histories and other risk factor data from farmworkers, documented the complexity of work histories encountered among farmworkers, and yielded recommendations for refining a questionnaire that will facilitate future epidemiologic research on farmworkers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epidemiologic Research Design*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States