Self care and health-seeking behavior of migrant farmworkers

J Immigr Minor Health. 2010 Oct;12(5):634-9. doi: 10.1007/s10903-009-9252-9.


There are an estimated three million migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFW) in the United States. In addition to the inherent dangers of farm work, numerous factors place MSFW at even greater risk for work-related injuries. Little is known about how MSFW care for work-related injuries, and how the decision to seek professional care is made. A prospective survey using face-to-face structured interviews was used to explore the type and frequency of occupational injuries as well as self-care and health-care seeking practices of MSFW. Musculoskeletal injuries were the most commonly reported injuries, followed by injuries of the skin and chemical exposure. Self care with over-the-counter remedies was the predominant method of dealing with injuries, and, with the exception of chemical exposure, was found to be for the most part, appropriate. The reported use of alternative medicine or herbal remedies was low. Future research efforts should focus on ergonomic modifications and farmworker education to reduce or prevent musculoskeletal injuries. The number of reported chemical exposures and inappropriate treatment draw attention to the need for continued efforts for both primary prevention of exposure and optimal treatment once exposure occurs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Occupational Health
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / ethnology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy