Objective: Some studies have suggest increased prevalence of mental health problems in farmers while others suggest, they are less common. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of mental health problems in Icelandic animal farmers.
Material and methods: This was a cross sectional study of all animal farmers in Iceland (response rate 54%, 1021) with an age matched comparison group (response rate 46%, 637). Psychiatric health was evaluated with General Health Questionnaire-12 and CAGE. Work conditions were studied with eight questions from the General Nordic Questionnaire for Psychological and Social Factors at Work.
Results: Farmers were less commonly alcohol consumers. The prevalence of mental health problems among farmers was 17 % while it was 22 % among non-farmers. According to CAGE 16% of male nonfarmers versus 11 % of farmers (p<0,032) had alcohol problems. There was no difference for females. Male farmers less commonly sought medical attention than non-farmers for anxiety, alcoholism and drug abuse. Farmers more often felt that their work was challenging in a positive way and also that work tasks were too complicated.
Conclusions: Mental health disturbances were less common in animal farmers. Educating farmers on work related issues might be important in improving the farming environment.