Musculoskeletal Pain and Cardiovascular Risk in Hispanic/Latino Meatpacking Workers

Sheri A. Rowland, Athena K. Ramos, Marcela Carvajal-Suarez, Natalia Trinidad, Rebecca Johnson-Beller, Leeza Struwe, Sophia A. Quintero, Bunny Pozehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Most meatpacking workers have pain affecting their back, arms, and/or wrists from work-related repetitive motions, forceful exertion, and awkward positioning. Chronic musculoskeletal pain is associated with obesity, hypertension, type II diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Hispanic/Latino workers in the meatpacking industry are a vulnerable population; limited English, lack of health insurance, and fear of deportation often deter them from seeking care where preventable cardiovascular risks might be detected. The purpose of this study was to examine perceived health and actual cardiovascular risk among Hispanic/Latino meatpacking workers with musculoskeletal pain in Nebraska. Methods: Structured interviews were used to examine perceived health, awareness of cardiometabolic risk, and capacity for health self-management. Body mass index (BMI), lipids, blood pressure, Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and cardiorespiratory fitness (step test) were used to examine cardiovascular risk. Findings: Of those interviewed (n = 39), musculoskeletal pain affected usual life activities in 64% (n = 25) of participants. Of those tested (n = 30), 93% (n = 28) had a BMI > 30 kg/m2, 86% (n = 26) had at least one lipid abnormality, 50% (n = 15) had blood pressure > 120/80 mm Hg, and 43% (n = 13) had an HbA1c > 5.7%. Males had greater fitness than females (p =.03), but also greater lifetime risk of heart attack or stroke compared with females (p =.02). Conclusion/Application to Practice: In this sample, cardiovascular risk exceeded that found in the general Hispanic population in the United States. Occupational health nurses can assist workers to be aware of their risk by measuring and providing culturally and linguistically appropriate education on blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, and HbA1c.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-563
Number of pages8
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Hispanic/Latino
  • cardiovascular risk
  • meatpacking
  • musculoskeletal pain
  • occupational health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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