Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Horse racing is a well-known sport and the part of the horse industry best known to the public; however, there is little information on the health status and health needs of people who work in this business. Past research shows that the thoroughbred worker population faces a myriad of health challenges. Swanberg et al. (2013) studied demographics, working conditions, and health of Latinos who work on thoroughbred farms in the United States by analyzing phone interviews, face-to-face interviews, and injury logs. The majority of injuries in this study are general injuries such as getting kicked or injuring fingers.

This study will estimate the effect of access to insurance on the health of people who work in the horse racing industry. Other research questions of the study are whether socioeconomic factors such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, and education level impact the health of the workers. Finally, the study will estimate the relationship of job title of the workers to overall health.

This study uses two survey tools, the SF-12v2® Health Survey and a background demographic survey to gather data from 73 thoroughbred workers. The majority of the sample are hotwalkers or grooms. Additionally, about half of the respondents elected to complete the English version of the survey and the other half decided to complete the Spanish version.

The results fall into two categories, mental health and physical health. The first main finding is language impacts mental health. Many of the participants who chose to fill out the survey in Spanish knew very little English or none at all and needed to ask another worker to translate. Additionally, Hispanics who were fluent in English often elected to complete the Survey in English. On average, participants who completed the survey in English scored higher on mental health measures than those who completed the survey in Spanish. This demonstrates that language is a barrier to achieving higher levels of mental health. Implementing or strengthening existing English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and posting translation posters around work areas could help ease the language barrier.

The second main finding is participants who did not have insurance or did not respond to the insurance question reported better general physical health than those with insurance. Possible reasoning for this is the self-selection of insurance, those who know they are healthy may choose not to purchase private insurance or seek jobs that offer insurance. Educating workers on the importance of health insurance to plan for risk and helping workers navigate Kynect, the Kentucky state health insurance exchange, could help lead to higher rates of insured thoroughbred workers.