RESEARCH PAPER
Obtaining health information from farmers: interviews versus postal questionnaires in a New Zealand case study.
 
More details
Hide details
1
New Zealand Environmental and Occupational Health Research Centre, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Otago Medical School, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
 
Ann Agric Environ Med 2005;12(2):223–228
KEYWORDS:
ABSTRACT:
Introduction:
To compare the effectiveness of interviewer-led and postal surveys in gathering adequate health data for occupational health programmes among farmers.

Material and Methods:
Two cross-sectional studies of farmers from southern New Zealand were conducted. Farms were randomly selected from the public land valuation roll and all farmers and farm workers invited to participate in the farmers’ health study. First, 477 farms were invited to participate in an interviewer administered questionnaire and health check; and second, a further 432 farms were selected and invited to participate in a self-administered postal survey. Both groups completed the same questionnaire.

Results:
The response for the interviewer-led and postal surveys was 65.4% and 51.6% respectively. The 2 groups differed demographically, with fewer young farm workers in the postal survey, but were similar in all areas of health information collected, except that men in the interviewer-led survey were significantly more likely to have a psychological disturbance than men in the postal survey (chi2=5.06, df=1, p=0.024).

Conclusions:
Despite the interviewer-led survey having a higher response rate, the postal survey produced similar health data, which is adequate for planning occupational health programmes for farmers. Extra effort should be made to recruit younger farm workers in future research.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR:
Kate C Morgaine   
New Zealand Environmental and Occupational Health Research Centre, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Otago Medical School, University of Otago, P O Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand
 
REFERENCES (37):
1. Armstrong D, Ashworth M: When questionnaire response rates do matter, a survey of general practitioners and their views of NHS changes. Br J Gen Pract 2000, 50(455), 479-480.
2. Austin MA, Criqui MH, Barrett-Connor E, Holdbrook MJ: The effect of response bias on the odds ratio. Am J Epidemiol 1981, 114(1), 137-143.
3. Blair A, Tarone R, Sandler D, Lynch C, Rowland A, Wintersteen W, Steen W, Dosemeci M, Alavanja M: Reliability of reporting on lifestyle and agricultural factors by a sample of participants in the agricultural health study from Iowa. Ann Epidemiol 2000, 10(7), 478.
4. Coury H, Kumar S, Jones E: Farm related injuries and fatalities in Alberta. Int J Ind Ergon 1999, 23, 539-547.
5. Crawford JM, Wilkins JR, Mitchell GL, Moeschberger ML, Bean TL, Jones LA: A cross-sectional case control study of work-related injuries among Ohio farmers. Am J Ind Med 1998, 34(6), 588-599.
6. Dennis J: Personal communication, New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, 2000.
7. Dillman D. Mail and Internet Surveys, The Tailored Design Method. 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons Inc., New York 2000.
8. Edwards P, Roberts I, Clarke M, DiGuiseppi C, Pratap S, Wentz R, Kwan I: Increasing response rates to postal questionnaires: systematic review. BMJ 2002, 324, 1183-1192.
9. Etter JF, Perneger TV: Analysis of non-response bias in a mailed health survey. J Clin Epidemiol 1997, 50(10), 1123-1128.
10. Feyer A-M, Langley J, Howard M, Horsburgh S, Wright C, Alsop J, Cryer C: Work-related fatal injuries in New Zealand 1985-1994: Descriptive Epidemiology. New Zealand Environmental and Occupational Health Research Centre and the Injury Prevention Research Unit, Dunedin 1999.
11. Firth HM, McBride DI, Feyer A-M, Herbison GP, Eason M, Wright G: Health of Farmers and Farm Workers in Southland. New Zealand Environmental and Occupational Health Research Centre, Dunedin 2000.
12. Glasscock DJ, Hansen ON, Rasmussen K, Carstensen O, Lauritsen J: The West Jutland study of farm accidents: a model for prevention. Saf Sci 1997, 25(1-3), 105-112.
13. Goldberg DP, Huxley D: Mental Illness in the Community. Tavistock, London 1981.
14. Heberlein TA, Baumgartner R: Factors affecting response rates to mailed questionnaires: a quantitative analysis of the published literature. Am Sociol Rev 1978, 43, 447-462.
15. Hill A, Roberts J, Ewings P, Gunnell D: Non-response bias in a lifestyle survey. J Public Health Med 1997, 19(2), 203-207.
16. Horne M, Laird I: Agrichemical safety and handling information, a users’ perspective. J Occup Health Saf (Australia & New Zealand) 1997, 13(1), 19-25.
17. Kimbell-Dunn M, Bradshaw L, Slater T, Erkinjuntti-Pekkanen R, Fishwick D, Pearce N: Asthma and allergy in New Zealand farmers. Am J Ind Med 1999, 35(1), 51-57.
18. Klesges RC, Williamson JE, Somes GW, Talcott GW, Lando HA, Haddock CK: A population comparison of participants and nonparticipants in a health survey. Am J Public Health 1999, 89(8), 1228-1231.
19. Kposowa AJ: Suicide mortality in the United States: differentials by industrial and occupational groups. Am J Ind Med 1999, 36(6), 645-652.
20. Langley J: Surveillance of serious occupational injury in New Zealand, taking a step backwards. J Occup Health Saf (Australia & New Zealand) 1998, 14(1), 81-84.
21. Malmberg A, Hawton K, Simkin S: A study of suicide in farmers in England and Wales. J Psychosom Res 1997, 43(1), 107-111.
22. Marshall SW, Clarke J, Langley JD, Cryer PC: Overview of injury on New Zealand farms. J Agric Saf Health 1996, 2(4), 175-190.
23. Medical Research Council: Questionnaire on Respiratory Symptoms. Medical Research Council, London 1966.
24. Pickett W, King WD, Lees REM, Bienefield M, Morrison HI, Brison RJ: Suicide mortality and pesticide use among Canadian farmers. Am J Ind Med 1998, 34(4), 364-372.
25. Russell D, Wilson N: Life in NZ Survey, Executive Overview. Hillary Commission for Recreation and Sport, Wellington 1991.
26. Sarfati D, Scott K (Eds). Taking the Pulse: The 1996/97 New Zealand Health Survey. Ministry of Health, Wellington 1999.
27. Saunders JB, Aasland OG, Babor TF, de la Fuente J, Grant M: Development of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), WHO Collaborative Project on early detection of persons with harmful alcohol consumption - II. Addiction 1993, 88, 791-804.
28. Scarth MD, Stallones L, Zwerling C, Burmeister LF: The prevalence of depressive symptoms and risk factors among Iowa and Colorado farmers. Am J Ind Med 2000, 37(4), 382-389.
29. Sharar E, Folsom AR, Jackson R and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study Investigators: The effect of nonresponse on prevalence estimates for a referent population: insights from a population-based cohort study. Ann Epidemiol 1996, 6(6), 498-506.
30. Siemiatycki J, Campbell S, Richardson L, Aubert D: Quality of response in different population groups in mail and telephone surveys. Am J Epidemiol 1984, 120(2), 302-314.
31. Statistics New Zealand: 1996 New Zealand census of population and dwellings. Department of Statistics New Zealand, Wellington 1996.
32. Statistics New Zealand: Agricultural Census 2002 Website. Department of Statistics New Zealand, 2002. www.stats.govt.nz.
33. Statistics New Zealand. Customised data request for farm demographics and workforce statistics by Territorial Local Authority. Department of Statistics New Zealand, 1999.
34. Statistics New Zealand. New Zealand Official Yearbook on the Web 1999. Department of Statistics New Zealand, 1999.
35. Tarone RE, Alavanja MC, Zahm SH, Lubin JH, Sandler DP, McMaster SB, Rothman N, Blair A: The Agricultural Health Study, factors affecting completion and return of self-administered questionnaires in a large prospective cohort study of pesticide applicators. Am J Ind Med 1997, 31(2), 233-242.
36. Thu K, Lasley P, Whitten P, Lewis M, Donham KJ, Zwerling C, Scarth MD: Stress as a risk factor for agricultural injuries: comparative data from the Iowa Farm Family Health and Hazard Survey (1994) and the Iowa farm and rural life poll (1989). In: Donham KJ, Rautiainen R, Schuman SH, Lay JA (Eds): Agricultural Health and Safety, Recent Advances, 181-191. Haworth Medical Press, New York 1997.
37. Yammarino FJ, Skinner SJ, Childers TL: Understanding mailed survey response behaviour: a meta-analysis. Public Opin Q 1991, 55, 613-639.
eISSN:1898-2263
ISSN:1232-1966