"I Would Go if My Arm Were Hanging off": A Qualitative Study of Healthcare-Seeking Behaviors of Small Farm Owners in Central New York State

J Agric Saf Health. 2017 Jan 26;23(1):67-81. doi: 10.13031/jash.11848.


Compared to their rural non-farming peers, farmers are less likely to access preventive healthcare services; however, the reasons for this disparity are poorly understood. We conducted semi-structured interviews with a total of 30 farm household members in central New York. Interview topics included farming identity, perceptions of one's health, past experiences with acute and preventive healthcare, and attitudes toward seeking healthcare services. Grounded Theory analysis of the interview transcripts revealed that (1) utilizing healthcare services is felt to be in conflict with the farming identity, (2) the need to conserve time and money for farm applications poses a barrier to healthcare utilization, (3) farmers decide to seek healthcare when they believe it is necessary to ensure survival of the farm, and (4) the decision to seek healthcare is most strongly driven by the presence of intolerable symptoms, prompting from others, and the perception that treatment will yield clear benefits. Efforts to increase farmers' utilization of healthcare services must address these considerations.

Keywords: Agriculture; Farm identity; Healthcare access; Healthcare-seeking behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Occupational Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*