Structural Vulnerability and Human Suffering: Pesticides and Self-Reported Pain Among Farmworkers in the United States

Mario A. Aguilar Buenrostro, Daniel E. Martínez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Few studies have examined how handling pesticides affects self-reported pain or discomfort, representing a critical yet under-examined dimension of farmworkers’ overall well-being. Guided by the social determinants of health framework, structural violence theory, and a “normalization of suffering” perspective, we ask: (1) what is the relationship between loading, mixing, or applying pesticides and self-reported musculoskeletal pain/discomfort? (2) When controlling for handling pesticides, what factors are associated with self-reported pain? We address these questions by drawing on the National Agricultural Workers Survey and find that handling pesticides within the past year increases the odds of self-reported pain. We also find that female and indigenous farmworkers have higher odds, net of handling pesticides and other occupational, health, and socioeconomic risk factors. Moreover, female farmworkers who handle pesticides report higher odds of pain relative to males who handle pesticides as well as females and males who do not. We conclude by discussing implications for the extant literature on farmworkers and by providing policy recommendations that may help researchers and policymakers better assess the health risks associated with handling pesticides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • farmworkers
  • indigenous
  • pain
  • pesticides
  • structural violence
  • suffering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences

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