Senior farmers suffer the highest fatality risk of any age group in agriculture. The purpose of this exploratory study was to develop a "voice" for senior farmers by examining aging farmers' and their families' perspectives of farm work, associated injury risks, and methods to decrease those risks. Focus groups and personal interviews were used to collect data from 81 participants across seven U.S. states. The findings reflect the collective and verified voice of the study group. The Health Belief Model was applied and revealed differences between farmers and their family members; however, the need and desire to continue self-directed work was ubiquitous. Seniors reported external risks, while family members were more likely to name risks associated with the health of the senior farmer. Both groups cited stress as an injury risk. Posing risk to others was the trigger point for senior farmers to make behavior changes. Family members reported uneasiness in initiating safety conversations. Adaptation of existing interventions for self-assessment of risk was rejected. Use of the popular farm press and respected local resources were desired as avenues for safety education. Humor and stories were highly regarded. Interventions should be tailored for the target audience. These new insights into the risk perceptions of senior farmers and their families may result in more appropriate actions by health professionals, extension staff social workers, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and others who work with farm populations.

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Published in Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health, v. 21, no. 4, p. 269-279.

© 2015 ASABE

The copyright holders have granted the permission for posting the article here.

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This study was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health under Grant No. R21OH009494. The findings presented do not imply endorsement by the funding agency.

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