261468 Methodological Considerations in Exploring Eye Injuries among Florida's Citrus Harvesters

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Antonio Tovar, MA , Farmworker Association of Florida, Apopka, FL
Robert J. McDermott, PhD , Florida Prevention Research Center, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Background: Agricultural work is a dangerous occupation. In the citrus industry, harvesters confront eye injuries from trees, dust, chemicals, insects, and sunlight exposure. Whereas eye injuries are common, few workers (~2%) historically have used protective eyewear. Objective: The presentation reports on the methodological challenges and lessons learned from studying citrus harvesters participating in a program promoting protective eyewear use. Methods: Partnering organizations (growers, migrant service organizations, worker coalitions, and health department personnel) conducted formative research leading to a marketing plan for promoting safety eyewear use. Subsequent data collection was observational, supplemented by face-to-face worker and crew leader interviews and examination of injury reports. Results: Program promotion and data collection initiatives were improved by: (1) building trust and rapport in the worker community; (2) partnering with local organizations; (3) understanding sources of worker-grower tensions; and (4) having both language and cultural proficiency. Data collection was confounded by having to track 13 intervention and control crews of up to 40 workers for 15 weeks over dense tree-populated areas as large as 6 acres while maintaining fidelity of observation protocols, ensuring consistent protective eyewear use by crew leaders acting as role models, maintaining meticulous field notes, and monitoring injuries across sources and severity, often during conditions typifying Florida's hot, humid climate. Additional confounders included turnover in workers and crew leaders. Conclusions: Safety eyewear use increased significantly (to 30% or more) in intervention crews but stayed flat in control crews. Methodologically speaking, stakeholder participation was vital to program design, observer fidelity, and worker cooperation.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the methodological challenges and lessons learned from studying citrus harvesters participating in a program promoting protective eyewear use. 2. Compare results from the distinctive methodologies used in the formative research of the project. 3. Identify best methodological practices for collecting data about farmworkers' safety practices.

Keywords: Agricultural Work Safety, Community-Based Partnership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the Project Director of the Partnership for Citrus Workers Health for over three years; and working on data collection and analysis in this same project for over six years. As a PhD student in the field of Medical Anthropology with a Certificate on Statistics and Methodology it is of a great concern for me to explore, expose, and discuss the best methodological practices apply in to challenging populations and behaviors.
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.