ORIGINAL ARTICLES

AAEM

Ann Agric Environ Med 2003, 10, 45-52

EMPOWERMENT IN FARMERS' OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH SERVICES

Jalmari Heikkonen, Veikko Louhevaara

Kuopio Regional Institute of Occupational Health, Kuopio, Finland

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Heikkonen J, Louhevaara V: Empowerment in farmers' occupational health services. Ann Agric Environ Med 2003, 10, 45-52.

Abstract: This study attempted to develop farmers' health and farmers occupational health services (FOHS) by examining the effects and feasibility of empowered farmers' teams on walk-through surveys of Finnish dairy farms. FOHS personnel of the health centre in three municipalities selected three farmer teams for the intervention group. Each team consisted of three or four couples. The selected comparison group resembled the intervention group. The number of the farms was 31 in the intervention group and 33 in the comparison group. Before and after the intervention each subject responded to questionnaires. The initial walk-through survey was carried out in 1998-1999, and the follow-up took place in 2000-2001. During the follow-up the FOHS personnel identified the changes made after the initial surveys on the farms. The farmers and FOHS personnel also underwent a thematic interview. Altogether 217 changes were made, half of them to improve ergonomics, and 87 of the 217 were extensive. The empowered farmer groups produced more changes in the work environment. The use of empowered farmer groups is feasible in walk-through surveys, and the approach can be easily learned. Empowered groups are also a challenge for FOHS personnel, and they enrich the work of these workers. The farmers want more varied measures for work-site health promotion, and, particularly, they feel that an occupational health physician should be present on walk-through surveys.

Address for correspondence: Jalmari Heikkonen, Kuopio Regional Institute of Occupational Health, P.O.Box 97, FIN-70701 Kuopio, Finland. E-mail: jalmari.heikkonen@ttl.fi

Key words: empowerment, farmer team, occupational health services, walk-through survey.


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