Safety knowledge, safety behaviors, depression, and injuries in Colorado farm residents


  • Cheryl L. Beseler PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Epidemiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska
    2. Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska
    • 984395 UNMC, Omaha, Nebraska 68198-4395.
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  • Lorann Stallones PhD, MPH

    1. Psychology Department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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    • Director, Colorado Injury Control Research Center; Professor, Psychology Department; Head, Graduate Degree Program in Public Health.



Changing safety behavior has been the target of injury prevention in the farming community for years but significant reductions in the number of farming injuries have not always followed. This study describes the relationships between safety knowledge, safety behavior, depression, and injuries using 3 years of self-reported data from a cohort of farm residents in Colorado.


Farm operators and their spouses (n = 652) were recruited in 1993 from a farm truck registration list using stratified probability sampling. Respondents answered ten safety knowledge and ten safety behavior questions. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale was used to evaluate depression. The most severe farm work-related injury over a 3-year period was the outcome variable. Factor analysis was used to produce a single measure of safety knowledge for logistic regression models to evaluate the relationships between injuries, safety knowledge, and behaviors.


Safety knowledge was significantly associated with wearing personal protective equipment. None of the safety behaviors were significantly associated with injuries. In the presence of depression, low safety knowledge increased the probability of injury (OR 3.87, 95% CI 1.00–15.0) in models adjusted for age, sex, hours worked per week, and financial problems. Compared to those not depressed, those depressed with a low safety score showed significantly greater risk of injury than those depressed with a high score in adjusted models (OR 3.09, CI 1.31–7.29 vs. OR 0.86, CI 0.31–2.37).


Future work on injuries in the farming community should include measures of mood disorders and interactions with safety perceptions and knowledge. Am. J. Ind. Med. 53:47–54, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.