Surveillance of Disease and Injury in Wisconsin Dairy Farmers and Workers

Project Description

Dates: 2012 – current

No practical surveillance mechanism exists that collects information on injuries associated with agricultural activities for most farms in the US. Dairy; Wisconsin’s most important agricultural activity, is no exception.  This surveillance project focuses on injuries in Wisconsin dairy farmers and workers, with particular emphasis on changes in the dairy industry and the effect these changes have on injury patterns.  The goal is to establish an active surveillance process using a recurring survey and linking to electronic health records and various state health data records in order to inform policy and guide interventions designed to reduce the overall burden of injury on this population.

SPECIFIC AIMS:

  1. Establish population-based estimates of incidence of injury and illnesses in dairy farmers and workers;
  2. Develop and administer a recurring survey to establish estimates of injury and illness among dairy farmers and workers throughout the state of Wisconsin over time; and
  3. Identify high risk activities and conditions associated with production processes and worker characteristics and track any detectable influence on the frequency of injury or illness in the dairy workforce.
2015 Project Update

surveillance-cowsThe main objective of this project is to establish and maintain a working injury surveillance system among farmers and farm workers in Wisconsin. The initial data collection was completed in Fall 2014. The survey tool is being prepared for a second round of data collection to identify trends in injury exposure on farms. An effective surveillance program is essential to providing data on the effects of safety programs and policies, among other changes over time.

The project is also evaluating the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP), a tool designed to data mine the electronic medical records of patients in the Marshfield Clinic service area to identify farmers and contribute to ongoing surveillance. The tool would allow disease and injury data to be automatically collected reducing the time and material costs of the surveillance project. After initially defining the search parameters, the research team is continuing to explore more fully the use and efficacy of the NLP tool. Specifically, they have compared the rate of disease and injury in two parts of the Marshfield Clinic service area. One area includes many dairy farms and the comparison area is known to contain very few dairy farms. These may be useful to further refine the NLP tool to identify dairy farm workers in the electronic medical records and track rates of injury and disease.

 

This study will be the first to establish population-based estimates of incidence and prevalence of work-related injuries and illnesses in dairy in Wisconsin.

Project Personnel

PROJECT DIRECTORS
Photo of Stephen C. Waring DVM, PhD

Stephen C. Waring DVM, PhD

Senior Research Scientist, Division of Research Essentia Institute of Rural Health
Phone: 218-786-1280

SENIOR ADVISOR

PROJECT PERSONNEL

CO-INVESTIGATORS
Photo of Bruce H. Alexander PhD

Bruce H. Alexander PhD

Professor, Division Head Environmental Health Sciences, University of MinnesotaUMASH Center Director
Phone: 612-625-7934 Website: View Bio

STAFF
Photo of Kathrine L. Barnes MS, MPH

Kathrine L. Barnes MS, MPH

Research Specialist National Farm Medicine Center
Phone: 715-221-7150
Photo of David McClure PhD

David McClure PhD

Clinical Epidemiologist Marshfield Epidemiology Research CenterMarshfield Clinic Research Foundation
Phone: 715-389-3534

Publications and Presentations

  • Reyes IA, Sandberg S, Keifer M, Waring S. Finding data, in data: Mining terms from electronic medical records for the characterization of dairy worker populations. Safety and Health in Agricultural and Rural Populations. Saskatoon, SK, Canada. October 19-22, 2014.
  • Reyes IA, Sandberg S, Keifer M, Waring S. Surveillance of Disease and Injury in Wisconsin Dairy Farmers and Workers. Safety and Health in Agricultural and Rural Populations. Saskatoon, SK, Canada. October 19-22, 2014.
  • Sandberg S. Surveillance of Disease and Injury in Wisconsin Dairy Farmers and Workers. North American Agricultural Safety Summit. Minnesota. Saskatoon, SK, Canada. October 19-22, 2014.
  • Sandberg S, Keifer M, Waring S. Surveillance of disease and injury in Wisconsin dairy farmers and workers. American Public Health Association 142nd Annual Meeting and Exposition. New Orleans, LA November 15-19, 2014.
  • Keifer M. Farm health and safety. 4th Annual Wisconsin Agribusiness Dinner. Columbus, WI. March 17, 2015.
  • Barnes KL, VanWormer J, Sandburgh S, McClure D, Waring SC, Keifer M. Surveillance of disease and injury in Wisconsin dairy farmers and workers. 2016 Nora Symposium, May 4, 2016, Minneapolis MN.

Project News