239805 Occupational skin disease explanatory models of immigrant Latino poultry processing workers: Addressing occupational health disparities

Monday, October 31, 2011: 3:00 PM

Antonio Marín, MA , Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Thomas A. Arcury, PhD , Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Sara A. Quandt, PhD , Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Objectives: Poultry workers handle raw carcasses in a damp cool environment. These exposures increase risk for infectious and inflammatory skin disease. This analysis documents Latino worker beliefs about the causes and treatments of skin diseases. This information provides a foundation for appropriate occupational safety training for prevention and treatment.

Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were completed with 15 Latino male and female poultry processing workers employed in western North Carolina. Participants had clinically diagnosed skin conditions. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and translated to English, with the translations checked for accuracy. Analysis used a systematic approach aided by a computer-based text analysis program.

Results: Workers reported a variety of infectious and inflammatory skin conditions. The names used for these conditions varied, but included granitos, arrugas, and granos. Commonly perceived causes included exposure to chicken grease, dirty water, “chemicals” used in the plant, and handling raw meat. Workers commonly reported itching and embarrassment. Workers usually treated these conditions with home remedies (lime juice, bleach), over-the-counter creams, and self-inflicted physical pain. They seldom used conventional medical care.

Conclusion: Infectious and inflammatory skin conditions are common among Latino poultry processing workers. These conditions cause physical and social discomfort. However, workers have only partial information about the causes of these conditions. Treatment is often limited to folk treatments that have limit efficacy. To address this health disparity, workers need culturally appropriate training to reduce the incidence of skin disease and they need access to effective medical treatments to reduce the discomfort of skin disease.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this presentation, participants will be able to Differentiate the cultural models of occupational skin disease of Latino workers, and Discuss the importance of cultural models in developing occupational safety training materials

Keywords: Immigrants, Culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved in research on immigrant worker health for 10 years.
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.