Alcohol use among immigrant Latino farmworkers in North Carolina

Authors

  • Joseph G. Grzywacz PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    • Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1084.
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  • Sara A. Quandt PhD,

    1. Department of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • Scott Isom MS,

    1. Department of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • Thomas A. Arcury PhD

    1. Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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Abstract

Background

Heavy alcohol use among Latino farmworkers is believed to be common, but it remains poorly documented.

Methods

Interviewer-administered survey questionnaires were administered to 151 Latino male farmworkers in Eastern North Carolina; topics included frequency of alcohol consumption, amount of alcohol typically consumed, frequency of consuming five or more drinks in a single setting, and signs of alcohol abuse/dependence.

Results

Over one-quarter (26%) completely abstain from alcohol, but 27% report frequent heavy drinking, or drinking five or more alcoholic beverages two or more times per month. Over one-third of farmworkers (39%) may be alcohol-dependent. Frequent heavy drinking is more common among single farmworkers and among those who do not follow the crops, and dependence is more common among farmworkers living in camps comprised of both H2A and non-contract workers.

Conclusions

There is substantial variation in alcohol use among Latino farmworkers. Although a substantial proportion of farmworkers abstain from alcohol, an equally substantial proportion report alcohol use that poses significant risk for injury on and off the job. More research is needed to document the potential threat to Latino farmworkers by their alcohol use. Interventions targeting alcohol are needed to minimize the risk of injury in an already dangerous occupation. Am. J. Ind. Med. 50:617–625, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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