Prevalence of physical health problem and health-related quality of life among rice farmers in Surin province, Thailand
Background Thailand is an agricultural country where rice is produced for domestic consumption as well as for export. The current acceleration of productivity has lead to increased use of chemicals and their related subsequent effects on health. To ameliorate the situation health impact, organic farming has been attempted promoted as an alternative. The objective of this study, to compare the prevalence of certain selected health problems and quality of life between chemical and organic rice farmer groups in Surin Province, Thailand
Methods A cross-sectional analytic study of 345 chemical and 364 organic rice farmers was conducted in 2020, among farmers who had been planting rice in Surin Province for at least 1 year. Data about the target health complaints during the past 3-month and 1-year periods as well as current quality of life measures were collected using a set of interview questionnaires. Chi-square and binary logistic regression were used for inter-group comparison.
Results Over the previous 3-months, muscle pain was the most frequent symptom in both groups of farmers, while headache was the most frequent symptom for the past year in both groups. The prevalence of diarrhea (OR = 3.10, p = 0.04) and muscle strain (OR = 2.19, p < 0.01) was significantly higher among the chemical rice farmers than among the organic rice farmers. Quality of life, however, was significantly higher among the chemical rice farmers than the organic rice farmers.
Conclusions To ameliorate adverse health effect of chemicals used in rice farming, organic rice farming should be encouraged by considering the while concurrently seeking a balance between health and quality of life.
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