Farm elders define health as the ability to work

Deborah B. Reed, Mary Kay Rayens, Christina K. Conley, Susan Westneat, Sarah M. Adkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Thirty percent of America's 2.2 million farms are operated by individuals older than 65 years. This study examined how older farmers define health and determined whether demographic characteristics, farm work, and physical and mental health status predict health definition. Data were collected via telephone and mailed surveys during the baseline wave of data collection in a longitudinal study of family farmers residing in two southern states (n = 1,288). Nearly 42% defined health as the "ability to work" compared to a physical health-related definition. Predictors of defining health as the ability to work included being White, performing more farm tasks in the past week, taking prescription medications daily, and having minimal health-related limitations to farm work. Health behaviors are centered on the individual's perception of health. Understanding the defining attributes of health can support better approaches to health care and health promotion, particularly among rural subcultures such as farmers, whose identity is rooted in their work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-351
Number of pages7
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Farm elders define health as the ability to work'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this