Health and Well-Being of Hispanic/Latino Meatpacking Workers in Nebraska: An Application of the Health Belief Model

Athena K. Ramos, Marcela Carvajal-Suarez, Natalia Trinidad, Sophia A. Quintero, Diana Molina, Rebecca Johnson-Beller, Sheri A. Rowland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Meatpacking is dirty, dangerous, and demanding work. In the United States, the industry predominately employs people from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds and immigrants, with 45% of the workforce identifying as Hispanic/Latino. Little is known about how the work environment affects worker engagement in health-promoting activities; however, occupational health professionals are uniquely positioned to advance worker health, safety, and general well-being. Methods: Hispanic/Latino meatpacking workers with work-related musculoskeletal pain and active health concerns were recruited to participate in a study to explore health, health behaviors, and the work environment. Five focus groups (N = 28) were conducted in Nebraska between March 2019 and February 2020. Thematic analysis using the Health Belief Model constructs was used to explain workers’ health behaviors including utilization of occupational health services at their workplace. Findings: Workers believed that there was little they could do to prevent and treat health problems. They understood the perceived threat of health problems and the benefits of self-care, but the perceived barriers often outweighed the benefits. The workplace had few prompts to motivate or incentivize self-care both in and outside of work. In addition, workers did not trust the occupational health office and saw few benefits to accessing services. Together, these conditions resulted in low self-efficacy and limited engagement in health-promoting behaviors. Conclusion/Application to practice: Occupational health professionals should promote Total Worker Health and foster trust by providing culturally, linguistically, and literacy appropriate services and by identifying opportunities and reducing barriers for workers to engage in activities to promote their health, safety, and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Health Belief Model
  • Hispanic/Latino
  • meat processing
  • meatpacking
  • occupational health
  • Total Worker Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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