Abstract: Gender Effects of Work-Life Stressors in Hispanic/Latino Farmworkers and Implications to Family Well-Being (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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113P Gender Effects of Work-Life Stressors in Hispanic/Latino Farmworkers and Implications to Family Well-Being

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Annie Keeney, PhD, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Dianne Ciro, PhD, LCSW, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Amy Quandt, PhD, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego
Background and Purpose: Imperial County, California, is five times more likely than other counties statewide and nationwide to work in agriculture. Located on the US-Mexico border, Imperial has the highest concentration of Hispanic/Latino populations in California and agriculture is the largest industry, contributing $4.4 billion to the local economy annually. Research has demonstrated an interconnection between the working environment and adverse mental and physical health outcomes among Hispanic/Latino agriculture workers. Given that female headed households with children make up 62% of Imperial County households (double the state average), and 1 in 6 jobs are directly attributable to agriculture, there may be some gender differences in how agriculture workers in the region experience occupational and homelife stressors. This study examined the distinct stressors faced by Hispanic/Latino farmworkers working in Imperial County. The specific objectives were to determine the prevalence of stressors and mental health risks and identify gender similarities and differences.

Methods: We conducted an exploratory assessment to assess Imperial County farmworkers' health and safety needs and COVID-19 testing and vaccine experiences. 197 Hispanic/Latino farmworkers completed the Migrant Farmworker Stress Inventory (MFWSI). The MFWSI has an individual cutoff score of 80; scores of 80 or more indicate clinically significant levels of stress. Additional items related to COVID-19 testing, vaccine, and COVID-19 positive results were included. Data were analyzed in SPSS 27. Descriptive analyses were calculated for all items measured to characterize the distinct stressors faced by respondents. Independent sample t-tests were used to examine gender differences in stressors.

Results: 42% of female farmworkers (M=66.3, SD=28.8) and 35% of male farmworkers (M=60.9, SD=32.4) had reported high stress levels indicative of clinical mental health risks and concerns. Approximately 85% of female farmworkers and 65 % of male farmworkers reported being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (r=.155, n=197, p=.030). Female and male farmworkers shared five of their respective gender groups’ top ten stressors. Similar stressors were associated with working conditions (e.g., weather, drug use by others) and family concerns (e.g., being away from family members). Females reported more stress associated with working long hours (F=4.169, p=.043) and other people using drugs (F=4.821, p=.030).

Conclusion: Hispanic/Latino farmworkers have unique health and safety needs that span work and home life. Our findings demonstrate that females and males experience stressors related to being away from family members, worrying about who their children are spending time with, sleep, and weather. Yet, our findings suggest female farmworkers are experiencing higher stress levels of clinical concern. Given the significant domestic responsibilities Latina workers face in addition to work stressors, reducing stressors in the working environment may directly translate to increased homelife well-being. Moreover, females had more stress associated with others’ drug use. However, it was the overall third top stressor for both groups- indicating a concern for the entire farming population. Understanding the effects of secondhand alcohol and drug use specific to farmworker populations and its impact on overall worker well-being is a pertinent issue for agricultural health and safety efforts that should be further explored.