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In the agricultural sector in Thailand, the heavy use of pesticides can have a negative impact on the health of elderly farmers. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of an application program on improving knowledge and attitude related to pesticide use among rice farmers in Ongkharak, Nakhon Nayok Province, Thailand. In this quasi-experimental study, two communities in different sub-districts were randomly selected for the intervention and the control groups. The inclusion criteria were 45–59-year-old rice farmers involved in the entire process of growing rice that was related to pesticide use. Multistage random sampling was employed by selecting one rice farmer from each rice farmer’s household. Of these, 37 farmers each were assigned to the intervention group and the control group, respectively. The data were collected at the baseline and four months after the intervention. A structured face-to-face interview questionnaire was administered to the participants. The pesticide application program was based on observation learning under the social cognitive theory and consisted of three elements over a three-month period: (1) knowledge and training, (2) risk communication, and (3) health surveillance.
The intervention effect was assessed by measuring 1) the participants’ knowledge on the safe use of pesticides and 2) their attitude related to pesticide use. The general linear model repeated-measure analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to generate figures by group and time. The pesticide application program had effectively improved the intervention group members’ knowledge on the safe use of pesticides and their attitude related to pesticide use at follow-up compared with the mean score at the baseline. Future studies should focus on the health effects of using pesticides on elderly rice farmers and vulnerable groups, as well as include programs that can sustainably reduce the health risks from their pesticide use.
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