Farmworkers survey highlights lack of oral healthcare

The first-ever survey of farmworkers in Sonoma County in California found that more than a third of those surveyed reported needing dental care in the past year.

Agriculture is an "essential" component of the economy in that county in Northern California (wine grapes alone grossed nearly $600 million in 2012), so a healthy workforce is important, the survey report authors noted. Farmworkers experience higher rates of unintentional fatal and occupational injuries and a higher prevalence of chronic diseases than the general population, they noted.

The Sonoma County Farmworker Health Survey was conducted by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services and California Human Development between September 2013 and January 2014, and the study report was released on October 19. The survey included nearly 300 farmworkers in the county.

Almost 40% of surveyed farm workers reported needing dental care in the last 12 months, compared with more than 60% who reported needing medical care. Among those who needed dental care, 35% reported going to a community clinic, 30% reported going to a private dentist, and 13% reported having "no one place for care," while less than 1% reported going to an emergency department for dental care. Only 30% of these workers reported having health insurance.

"By clearly documenting and understanding the health and well-being of the county's farmworkers, community advocates and stakeholders will now have important local data to identify opportunities to improve health and to help craft and customize the strong local policies, programs, and services that best fit the unique needs of Sonoma County's farmworkers and their families," the report authors wrote in their executive summary.

Page 1 of 528
Next Page