205313 Two Sides of Every Story: A Collaborative Model to Decrease Occupational Illnesses in Connecticut Tobacco Farmworkers

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 2:45 PM

Marcia C. Trapé-Cardoso, MD , Department of Medicine, Section of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT
Anne L. Bracker, MPH , Division of Public Health and Population Sciences, Section of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT
Nancy J. Simcox, MS , Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Eddie Sapiain, Labor Educator , ConnectiCOSH, Newington, CT
Lynae Ann Hawkes, MA , The NY Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, Bassett Healthcare, Cooperstown, NY
Bruce E. Gould, MD , Associate Dean of Primary Care, UConn School of Medicine, Farmington, CT
The University of Connecticut (UCONN) Health Center used a participatory research model to decrease occupational illnesses in Connecticut tobacco farmworkers. The goals of the research, funded by Northeast Center for Agricultural Medicine (NEC), were to develop health and safety interventions and sustain a dialogue between growers and workers. Through focus groups, the stakeholders identified skin and eye irritation as the most important occupational health problems. A chart review of farmworker clinic patients confirmed these findings. After the initial summer, we implemented a modification of the clinical encounter form in the clinics to include the physician's opinion on the work-relatedness of the diagnoses. Interventions for reducing skin and eye irritation were defined by workers and growers. Observations by outreach staff and reports of workers showed that most farms did not have soap and towels available in the fields. Growers reported that they always supplied water, soap, and towels. Education of the two groups was intensified to address these different perspectives. As a result, two interventions were implemented: the workers were invited to attend hygiene trainings and the growers were encouraged to place more hand washing facilities with soap and towels in the fields. Data from the UCONN Migrant Farmworkers Clinic over the past 4 years will be presented. Our results show that 1) modification of the clinic encounter forms increased identification of occupational illnesses and 2) participatory research resulting in workers' and growers' support of the proposed interventions can reduce the burden of occupational illness in this population.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the participatory research project involving the CT Tobaco Farms community. Discuss barriers and successes accomplished throughout the past 3 years. Demosntrate the effectiveness of the interventions proposed through discussions with farmworkers, growers and community supporting agencies.

Keywords: Migrant Farm Workers, Community Participation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Marcia Trapé-Cardoso is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. In addition to her roles as lead physician for the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic and the Medical Director of the University’s Employee Health Service, Dr. Trapé-Cardoso is the principal investigator for two NEC-NYCAMH (CDC) grants: Green Tobacco Sickness and Salivary Cotinine Levels among Farm Workers in CT” and “Reducing Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in Migrant and Seasonal Tobacco Farm Workers”. Through a coalition of community health programs and her research team Dr. Trapé-Cardoso has investigated multiple migrant workers’ health issues including green tobacco sickness, tuberculosis, occupational hearing loss and most recently, respiratory and dermal irritation. Dr. Trapé-Cardoso has published her research in peer-reviewed journals. She and her colleagues have presented their work on migrant farm worker health and safety at several APHA meetings. Their most recent APHA presentations have been “Analyses of Occupational Illnesses and Implementation of Preventive Strategies at a CT Tobacco Farm (2007); “Prevalence of Latent TB Infection among CT Migrant Farm Workers Residing in Barracks” (2006) and “Occupational Nicotine Exposure among CT Shade Tobacco Farm Workers” (2004).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.