Factors Associated with Musculoskeletal Discomfort in Farmers and Ranchers in the U.S. Central States

Yi Du, Lorena Baccaglini, Anthony Johnson, Jagadeesh Puvvula, Risto H. Rautiainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Agricultural work involves ergonomic and psychosocial strain, which contribute to musculoskeletal conditions. The aim of this study was to assess if specific ergonomic, psychosocial, and preventive factors are linked to musculoskeletal pain or discomfort symptoms (MSS) in farmers and ranchers. We analyzed data from the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health survey that was conducted in 2018 in a seven-state region of the central United States. MSS were assessed with questions from the Standardized Nordic Questionnaire. The survey included questions on demographic, ergonomic, psychosocial and preventive factors. Farm production variables were added from the Farm Market iD database. We analyzed the data using Generalized Estimating Equations. The overall prevalence of MSS for all body sites combined was 59% among 4,354 farmers and ranchers who responded (19% response rate). After controlling for age, sex, and operator status, three factors (high stress level, sleep deprivation, and exhaustion/fatigue) showed the strongest associations with MSS in any body site, with adjusted odds ratios (OR) ranging from 4.8 to 5.6. Forceful exertions, repetitive tasks, awkward postures, frequent manual labor, and vibration were also significantly associated with MSS, with adjusted ORs ranging from 1.8 to 3.3. Recommended preventive techniques were not protective for MSS. New effective strategies are needed to reduce the high burden of musculoskeletal outcomes among farmers and agricultural workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-244
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Musculoskeletal
  • agriculture
  • discomfort
  • ergonomic
  • pain
  • prevention
  • symptom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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