Preventing occupational exposure to pesticides: using participatory research with latino farmworkers to develop an intervention

J Immigr Health. 2001 Apr;3(2):85-96. doi: 10.1023/A:1009513916713.


Pesticide exposure is an occupational health hazard for migrant farmworkers. The US-EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS) mandates training programs to prevent or reduce exposure. WPS implementation in a local context requires understanding individual, workplace, and community environmental factors that lead to exposure and influence intervention effectiveness. Participatory research within the PRECEDE-PROCEED planning framework was used to design a WPS training program for Mexican farmworkers in North Carolina cucumber and tobacco production. Research with farmworkers, farmers, health care providers, and Cooperative Extension agents identified modifiable behaviors and environmental factors, as well as structural and regulatory barriers requiring intervention. Data were gathered and analyzed through individual and group interviews, community forums, an advisory board, and a partnership between academic researchers and a community-based organization. The intervention's dominant features are (a) focus on key health behaviors, (b) relevance to local conditions, and (c) attention to issues of control in the workplace. Participatory research is effective for designing a health intervention where diverse social, cultural, political, and regulatory issues affect farmworkers' risk of exposure.