Central Appalachian Regional Education and Resource Center (CARERC)

Current Projects

Development of a Culturally Effective Educational Program in the Prevention of Heat Stress among Spanish Speaking Hispanic Farm Workers in Rural East Tennessee

For crop workers, the rate of heat-related deaths is 20 times that of U.S. workers overall: 4.0 versus 0.2 per 1 million FTE). North Carolina has the nation’s highest reported rate of heat stroke fatalities among agricultural workers (Jackson and Rosenberg, 2010). At farms in neighboring east Tennessee, which has a similar environment, work safety training is provided to Hispanic farm workers at the beginning of each season. This training is normed on the general population. In the absence of systematic evaluation, it is not clear how well Spanish speaking farm workers understand the training content or if it fosters preventive health practices in the field. Therefore, this study aims to

  1. Identify baseline content knowledge of heat stress and methods of prevention among Spanish speaking Hispanic farm workers in rural east Tennessee.
  2. Explore and identify preferred methods and materials by which Spanish speaking Hispanic farm workers in rural east Tennessee are motivated and best learn.
  3. Based on the preferred learning needs and methods, develop and evaluate a program to educate Spanish speaking Hispanic farm workers about heat stress prevention.
  4. Present the newly developed educational program on heat stress prevention to the study participants and evaluate results.
  5. Use findings to seek larger funding to implement and test the program among farm workers in the field.
  6. Disseminate findings to the Hispanic community and community partners, as well as in regional and national forums through presentation and publication.

A pre-test questionnaire administered to 20 Hispanic farm workers who work full-time in the fields during the summer months in east Tennessee will determine baselines of knowledge on heat-related health hazards and prevention behaviors. This will be followed by two focus groups comprised of the same farm workers and facilitated by a native Spanish speaker to elucidate subject attitudes, perceptions and understanding, including preferences for educational materials on heat-related health hazards and prevention behaviors, methods of dissemination, and setting.

Transcripts from the focus groups will be analyzed using content analysis. Based on those results, an educational program will be developed in collaboration with an advisory committee consisting of Hispanic community leaders, farm workers, and farm owners in the area. The educational program will then be presented to the original 20 farm workers and a post-test will be administered to determine changes in content knowledge. Results from the pre- and post-tests will be analyzed and changes will be reported as descriptive statistics.

The researchers anticipate that, due to the input of Hispanic farm workers themselves, the educational model developed through this project will be culturally appropriate and thus more effective in achieving both knowledge transfer and behavior change regarding measures to prevent heat stress. The researchers anticipate that findings from this pilot study will inform a larger proposal to field test and evaluate the new educational program.

For more information contact:
Sharon Loury PhD
Assistant Professor
East Tennessee State University
College of Nursing
256 Nicks Hall
Johnson City, TN
(423) 439-4057