Farmworkers in Sonoma County Face Health Disparities, Study Finds

Farmworkers in Sonoma County are more likely to have diabetes, be in poor health and not have health insurance compared to the general population, a new study reports.

Researchers in Sonoma County surveyed farmworkers there to identify health disparities, according to the study, published March 31 in the peer-reviewed journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

The Sonoma County Farmworker Health Survey found that 44 percent of the farmworkers surveyed reported having poor or fair health, compared to 13 percent of the area’s adult population.

About 15 percent of the farmworkers had been diagnosed with diabetes, while only 5 percent of the general population had, researchers found.

Rates of high blood pressure were about the same — around 25 percent — in the farmworkers and the general population.

The survey found that about 30 percent of the farmworkers had U.S.-based health insurance, compared with 86 percent of the general population.

The farmworkers were mostly male, Latino or Hispanic and low-income — with 81 percent reporting that their families earned less than $30,000 in 2012, the survey found.

Researchers surveyed 293 farmworker adults between September 2013 and January 2014. For the general population of Sonoma County adults, the study uses data from the California Health Interview Survey for 2011-12.

“We identified significant health disparities between Sonoma County farmworkers and Sonoma County adults overall,” the researchers, from the County of Sonoma Department of Health Services, wrote. “Additional research and new health policies are necessary to eliminate these health disparities and to facilitate farmworker access to the health care system.”

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