The health of California's immigrant hired farmworkers

Am J Ind Med. 2010 Apr;53(4):387-97. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20796.


Background: Hispanic immigrant workers dominate California's hired farm workforce. Little is known about their health status; even less is known about those lacking employment authorization.

Methods: The California Agricultural Workers Health Survey (CAWHS) was a statewide cross-sectional household survey conducted in 1999. Six hundred fifty-four workers completed in-person interviews, comprehensive physical examinations, and personal risk behavior interviews.

Results: The CAWHS PE Sample is comprised mostly of young Mexican men who lack health insurance and present elevated prevalence of indicators of chronic disease: overweight, obesity, high blood pressure, and high serum cholesterol. The self-reported, cumulative, farm work career incidence of paid claims for occupational injury under workers compensation was 27% for males and 11% for females.

Conclusions: The survey finds elevated prevalence of indicators of chronic disease but lack of health care access. Participants without employment authorization reported a greater prevalence of high-risk behaviors, such as binge drinking, and were less knowledgeable about workplace protections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture
  • California / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Disease / ethnology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Health*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology