Protecting ourselves from harm: Voices of aging farmers

Deborah B. Reed, Deborah T. Claunch

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

8 Scopus citations


Senior farmers suffer the highest fatality risk of any age group in agriculture. The purpose of this exploratory study was to develop a "voice" for senior farmers by examining aging farmers' and their families' perspectives of farm work, associated injury risks, and methods to decrease those risks. Focus groups and personal interviews were used to collect data from 81 participants across seven U.S. states. The findings reflect the collective and verified voice of the study group. The Health Belief Model was applied and revealed differences between farmers and their family members; however, the need and desire to continue self-directed work was ubiquitous. Seniors reported external risks, while family members were more likely to name risks associated with the health of the senior farmer. Both groups cited stress as an injury risk. Posing risk to others was the trigger point for senior farmers to make behavior changes. Family members reported uneasiness in initiating safety conversations. Adaptation of existing interventions for self-assessment of risk was rejected. Use of the popular farm press and respected local resources were desired as avenues for safety education. Humor and stories were highly regarded. Interventions should be tailored for the target audience. These new insights into the risk perceptions of senior farmers and their families may result in more appropriate actions by health professionals, extension staff, social workers, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and others who work with farm populations.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Specialist publicationJournal of Agricultural Safety and Health
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 ASABE.


  • Family
  • Farm safety
  • Farmer's attitude
  • Health protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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