American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

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Depressive Symptoms Among Colorado Farmers

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  . Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 1(1):37-43. (doi: 10.13031/2013.19454) @1995
Authors:   L. Stallones, M. Leff, C. Garrett, L. Criswell, T. Gillan
Keywords:   Mental health, Farmers, Depressive symptoms

Previous studies have reported farmers to be at higher risk of suicide compared to other workers. In order to determine possible correlates of suicide, a study including assessment of depressive symptoms was undertaken in Colorado. The purpose of this article is to describe depressive symptoms among a representative sample of Colorado farm operators and their spouses. A stratified sample of farms in Colorado was selected for study. Detailed questionnaires were administered by telephone interview assessing general health, farm characteristics, demographics, hazards, injuries, behavioral risk factors, safety knowledge, medical care and insurance, mental health using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, social support, and pesticide exposures. Logistic regression was used to evaluate factors associated with depressive symptoms in this population. A total of 485 farms representing 872 individuals were enrolled in the study. A 9.3% overall prevalence of depressive symptoms was found in the group; 7.9% among males and 11.1% among females. Factors evaluated in relation to depressive symptoms were age, social support, negative life changes, general physical health, changes in income, and alcohol use. Based on backward elimination, overall assessment of health, gender, social support, and negative life changes were significantly associated with depressive symptoms. Overall prevalence of depressive symptoms was lower in this population from that reported in the general population. Characteristics associated with depressive symptoms in other population studies were also associated with depression in this group. Further work is needed to elucidate factors which affect the overall risk of suicide among farmers.

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