Manual laborers are at increased risk for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and a combination of history, physical examination, and nerve conduction studies is often used to screen for CTS in this population. Neuromuscular ultrasound may be a better screening tool, because it is painless. In this study we compare the accuracy of nerve conduction studies and ultrasound for CTS screening.
Five hundred thirteen manual laborers were screened prospectively for CTS using nerve conduction studies and neuromuscular ultrasound, and the accuracy of the 2 techniques was compared using the Katz hand diagram as the diagnostic standard.
The ROC curves for the 2 techniques were not significantly different (P = 0.542), indicating that the approaches had similar diagnostic accuracy.
Neuromuscular ultrasound is a painless technique that has diagnostic accuracy similar to nerve conduction studies and can be used to screen large populations at risk for CTS.
accuracy; carpal tunnel syndrome; clinical neurophysiology; screening test; ultrasound
The prevalence of bifid median nerves and persistent median arteries, their co-occurrence, and their relationship to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) are only understood partially.
We screened 1026 wrists of 513 Latino manual laborers in North Carolina for bifid median nerves and persistent median arteries using electrodiagnosis and ultrasound.
A total of 8.6% of wrists had a bifid median nerve, and 3.7% of wrists had a persistent median artery independent of subgroup ethnicity, age, gender, or type of work. An association with definite carpal tunnel syndrome was not found. The presence of either anatomic variant was associated with a high likelihood of co-occurrence of another variant in the same or the contralateral wrist.
The occurrence of median anatomic variants can be determined in field studies using ultrasound. Persistent median arteries and bifid median nerves tend to co-occur but do not put manual laborers at additional risk of developing CTS.
entrapment neuropathy; epidemiology; neuromuscular ultrasound; occupational health; poultry workers
This study examined organizational levers that impact work–family experiences, participant health, and subsequent turnover. Using a sample of 179 women returning to full-time work 4 months after childbirth, we examined the associations of 3 job resources (job security, skill discretion, and schedule control) with work-to-family enrichment and the associations of 2 job demands (psychological requirements and nonstandard work schedules) with work-to-family conflict. Further, we considered subsequent impact of work-to-family conflict and enrichment on women’s health (physical and mental health) 8 months after women returned to work and the impact of health on voluntary turnover 12 months after women returned to work. Having a nonstandard work schedule was directly and positively related to conflict, whereas schedule control buffered the effect of psychological requirements on conflict. Skill discretion and job security, both job resources, directly and positively related to enrichment. Work-to-family conflict was negatively related to both physical and mental health, but work-to-family enrichment positively predicted only physical health. Physical health and mental health both negatively influenced turnover. We discuss implications and opportunities for future research.
work–family conflict; work–family enrichment; health; turnover; job demands
This study documents demographic, health, and complementary therapy (CT) correlates of medical skepticism among rural older adults.
Older (≥65 years) African Americans and Whites in rural North Carolina (N=198) were interviewed. Medical skepticism was assessed using the four items from the Medical Expenditure Survey. Bivariate associations between medical skepticism and demographic and health characteristics and CT use were assessed, and independent effects on CT use.
Positive responses to medical skepticism questions ranged from 19.7% (can overcome illness without help) to 59.6% (believes own behavior determines their health). Medical skepticism indicators were associated with few demographic and health characteristics, and one CT category.
This study shows a high degree of medical skepticism among rural older adults, but limited associations with demographic and health characteristics and CT use. Further research is needed to understand relationships of attitudes towards conventional care and CT use in this population.
Medical skepticism; complementary therapies; rural older adults; African Americans
Studies on complementary therapy use among adults with diabetes are limited by crude use measures and lack of specificity of use for treating diabetes. Data are from a study including baseline and repeated 3-day assessments of complementary therapy use among rural African American and White older (age ≥64) adults (n=71). Most commonly used complementary therapies for diabetes at baseline included prayer (88.7%), food/beverages (50.7%), herbs (11.3%) and home remedies (9.9%). In repeated measures (1131 interviews), prayer was used on 57.2% of days, followed by food/beverages (12.7%), herbs (3.4%) and home remedies (2.7%). 56.3% who reported praying did so on ≥5 reporting periods; other complementary therapy use was sporadic. These data show, with the exception of prayer and food/beverages, limited complementary therapy use for diabetes treatment among rural older adults, and less inconsistent use patterns of most complementary therapies. Further research is needed to understand the motivations and patterns of complementary therapy use for diabetes patients.
Complementary Therapy Use; Diabetes Mellitus; Rural Older Adults
People with diabetes must engage in several self-care activities to manage blood glucose; cognitive function and other affective disorders may affect self-care behaviors. We examined the executive function domain of cognition, depressive symptoms, and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) to determine which common mental conditions that can co-occur with diabetes are associated with blood glucose levels.
We conducted a cross-sectional in-person survey of 563 rural older adults (age 60 years or older) with diabetes that included African Americans, American Indians, and Whites from eight counties in south-central North Carolina. Hemoglobin A1C (A1C) was measured from a finger-stick blood sample to assess blood glucose control. Executive function, depressive symptoms, and symptoms of GAD were assessed using established measures and scoring procedures. Separate multivariate linear regression models were used to examine the association of executive function, depressive symptoms, and symptoms of GAD with A1C.
Adjusting for potential confounders including age, gender, education, ethnicity, marital status, history of stroke, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes knowledge, and duration of diabetes, executive function was significantly associated with A1C levels: every one-unit increase in executive function was associated with a 0.23 lower A1C value (p = 0.02). Symptoms of depression and GAD were not associated with A1C levels.
Low executive function is potentially a barrier to self-care, the cornerstone of managing blood glucose levels. Training aids that compensate for cognitive impairments may be essential for achieving effective glucose control.
A1C; cognitive function; depression; anxiety; aging
This article describes the daily self-management practices of older adults with arthritis and examines the association of symptom experience with the use of self-management behaviors.
197 African American and White participants completed a baseline interview and six sets of three follow-up daily-diary interviews at monthly intervals.
Arthritis was reported by 63.5%. Arthritis self-management reported included complementary therapies, over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, foods or beverages, and home remedies. Odds of implementing these self-care practices were greater on days with joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Although, 78.0% and 72.4% of all participants reported staying in bed or cutting back on activities in response to joint symptoms, these self-management activities were not associated with having arthritis.
Focusing on daily responses to symptoms demonstrates that older adults actively manage arthritis symptoms using a wide variety of measures, including complementary therapies.
self-care; rural; complementary and alternative medicine; daily diary method
Racial and ethnic disparities in diabetes and subsequent complications are often attributed to culture; however, previous diabetes disparities research is restricted to in-depth ethnic-specific samples or to comparative study designs with limited belief assessment. The goal of this study is to improve understanding of the cultural basis for variation in diabetes beliefs.
Rural North Carolina
Older adults (aged 60+) with diabetes, equally divided by ethnicity (White, African American, American Indian) and gender (N=593).
Guided by Explanatory Models of Illness and Cultural Consensus research traditions, trained interviewers collected data using 38 items in four diabetes belief domains: causes, symptoms, consequences, and medical management. Items were obtained from the Common Sense Model of Diabetes Inventory (CSMDI).
Beliefs about diabetes. Response options for each diabetes belief item were “agree,” “disagree” and “don’t know”. Collected data were analyzed using Anthropac (version 4.98) and Latent Gold (version 4.5) programs.
There is substantial similarity in diabetes beliefs among African Americans, American Indians, and Whites. Diabetes beliefs were most similar in the “symptoms” and “consequences” domains compared to beliefs pertaining to “causes” and “medical management.” Although some discrete beliefs differed by ethnicity, systematic differences by ethnicity were observed for specific educational groups.
Socioeconomic conditions influence diabetes beliefs rather than “ethnicity” per se.
Diabetes Beliefs; Explanatory Models of Illness; Cultural Consensus; Ethnic Differences; Health Disparities
Cognitive impairment is common in older adults with diabetes, yet it is unclear to what extent cognitive function is associated with health literacy. We hypothesized that cognitive function, independent of education, is associated with health literacy.
The sample included 537 African American, American Indian, and White men and women 60 years or older. Measures of cognitive function included the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Verbal Fluency, Brief Attention, and Digit Span Backward tests. Health literacy was assessed using the S-TOFHLA.
Cognitive function was associated with health literacy, independent of education and other important confounders. Every unit increase in the MMSE, Digit Span Backward, Verbal Fluency or Brief Attention was associated with a 20% (p<.001), 34% (p<.001), 5% (p<.01), and 16% (p<.01) increase in the odds of having adequate health literacy, respectively.
These results suggest that cognitive function is associated with health literacy in older adults with diabetes. Because poor cognitive function may undermine health literacy, efforts to target older adults on improving health literacy should consider cognitive function as a risk factor.
cognition; health literacy; diabetes
Job stress has been associated with cognitive function, but the relationship is often overlooked when considering occupational health and safety issues of farmworkers. This study examined the relationship between stress and change in stress with change in cognitive function in a representative sample of 123 Latino farmworkers. METHODS: A prospective study design was used in which stress and cognitive function data were collected at baseline and at 3-month follow-up. Linear regression models were used for analyses. Potential confounders included baseline gender, age, education, number of years worked in U.S. agriculture, ever smoking status, self-rated health, and depressive symptoms.
Baseline stress was significantly correlated with baseline cognitive function (r = −.27; p <.001). Adjusting for confounders, increased baseline stress was associated with greater decline in cognitive function (p = .024). Short-term changes in stress were not associated with cognitive change in this cohort.
Stress at work is an important risk factor for poor cognitive function. This analysis suggests several implications for the provision of health care and for the organization of work for farmworkers.
stress; cognitive function; occupational health; farmworkers
Although the health risk to farmworkers of working in hot conditions is recognized, potential for excessive heat exposure in housing affecting rest and recovery has been ignored. We assessed heat index (HI) in common and sleeping rooms in 170 North Carolina farmworker camps across a summer and examined associations with time of summer and air conditioning use. Dangerous HIs were recorded in most rooms, regardless of time or air conditioning. Policies to reduce HI in farmworker housing should be developed.
Preparing and consuming nutritionally adequate and safe food is critical to the work capacity of migrant farmworkers. This paper: (1) describes observed cooking and eating facilities in migrant farmworker camps, (2) compares observed conditions with existing farmworker housing regulations, and (3) examines associations of violations with camp characteristics.
Data were collected in 182 farmworker camps in eastern NC during the 2010 agricultural season. Observations were compared with 15 kitchen-related housing regulations specified by federal and state housing standards.
Violations of 8 regulations were observed in at least 10% of camps: improper refrigerator temperature (65.5%), cockroach infestation (45.9%), contaminated water (34.4%), rodent infestation (28.9%), improper flooring (25.8%), unsanitary conditions (21.2%), improper fire extinguisher (19.9%), and holes/leaks in walls (12.1%). Logistic regression showed that violations were related to the time of the agricultural season, housing type, number of dwellings and residents, and presence of workers with H-2A visas.
Cooking and eating facilities for migrant farmworkers fail to comply with regulations in a substantial number of camps. Greater enforcement of regulations, particularly post-occupancy during the agricultural season, is needed to protect farmworkers.
To assess water quality in migrant farmworker camps in North Carolina (NC), and determine associations of water quality with migrant farmworker housing characteristics.
Data were collected in 181 farmworker camps in eastern NC during the 2010 agricultural season. Water samples were tested using the Total Coliform Rule (TCR) and housing characteristics were assessed using NC Department of Labor (NCDOL) standards.
A total of 61 (34%) of 181 camps failed the TCR. Total coliform bacteria were found in all 61 camps, with E. coli also being detected in 2. Water quality was not associated with farmworker housing characteristics or with access to registered public water supplies. Multiple official violations of water quality standards had been reported for the registered public water supplies.
Water supplied to farmworker camps often does not comply with current standards and poses a great risk to the physical health of farmworkers and surrounding communities. Expansion of water monitoring to more camps and changes to the regulations such as testing during occupancy and stronger enforcement are needed to secure water safety.
Safety, security, hygiene, and privacy in migrant farmworker housing have not previously been documented, yet these attributes are important for farmworker quality of life and dignity. This analysis describes the safety, security, hygiene, and privacy of migrant farmworker housing and delineates camp characteristics that are associated with these attributes, using data collected in 183 eastern North Carolina migrant farmworker camps in 2010. Migrant farmworker housing is deficient. For example, 73.8 percent of housing had structural damage and 52.7 percent had indoor temperatures that were not safe. Farmworkers in 83.5 percent of the housing reported that they did not feel they or their possessions were secure. Bathing or toileting privacy was absent in 46.2 percent of the housing. Camps with residents having H-2A visas or North Carolina Department of Labor certificates of inspection posted had better safety, security, and hygiene. Regulations addressing the quality of migrant farmworker housing are needed.
migrant farmworker; housing quality; occupational justice
Latino farmworkers are a vulnerable population who confront multiple threats to their mental health. Informed by the stress-process model of psychiatric disorder, the goal of this paper is to determine personal and situational correlates of poor mental health among Latino farmworkers. Structured interview data were obtained from farmworkers (N=69) in six counties in eastern and western North Carolina. Results indicated that a substantial number of farmworkers have poor mental health, as indicated by elevated depressive symptoms (52.2%) and anxiety (16.4%). Results also indicated that each mental health outcome had different predictors. Addressing the mental health issues of farmworkers requires a comprehensive, multifaceted approach.
The quality of housing provided to migrant farmworkers is often criticized, but few studies have investigated these housing conditions. This analysis examines housing regulation violations experienced by migrant farmworkers in North Carolina, and the associations of camp characteristics with the presence of housing violations.
Data were collected in183 eastern North Carolina migrant farmworker camps in 2010. Housing regulation violations for the domains of camp, sleeping room, bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and general housing, as well as total violations were assessed using North Carolina Department of Labor standards.
Violations of housing regulations were common, ranging from 4 to 22 per camp. Housing regulation violations were common in all domains; the mean number of camp violations was 1.6, of sleeping room violations was 3.8, of bathroom violations was 4.5, of kitchen violations was 2.3, of laundry room violations was 1.2, and of general housing violations was 3.1. The mean number of total housing violations was 11.4. Several camp characteristics were consistently associated with the number of violations; camps with workers having H-2A visas, with North Carolina Department of Labor Certificates of Inspection posted, and assessed early in the season had fewer violations.
These results argue for regulatory changes to improve the quality of housing provided to migrant farmworkers, including stronger regulations and the more vigorous enforcement of existing regulations.
Migrant farmworker; housing conditions; substandard housing; housing standards; enforcement
To describe older adults' use of complementary therapies, self-care practices, and medical care to treat daily symptoms and to delineate gender, ethnic, age, and education differences.
A total of 200 African American and White participants (age 65+) selected using a site-based procedure complete a baseline interview and up to six sets of three daily follow-up interviews at monthly intervals. The percent of older adults using a therapy and the frequency with which therapies are used are considered.
The use of complementary therapies to treat daily symptoms, though important, is substantially less than the use of self-care practices and medical care. Participants differed by age, ethnicity, and education in the use of therapies.
In considering the percentage of individuals who use a therapy and the frequency with which therapies are used, this analysis adds a new dimension to understanding how older adults manage daily symptoms. Older adults are selective in their use of health self-management.
health self-management; complementary therapies; rural aging
This analysis delineates the predisposing, need, and enabling factors that are significantly associated with regular and recent dental care in a multi-ethnic sample of rural older adults.
A cross-sectional comprehensive oral health survey conducted with a random, multi-ethnic (African American, American Indian, white) sample of 635 community-dwelling adults aged 60 years and older was completed in two rural southern counties.
Almost no edentulous rural older adults received dental care. Slightly more than one-quarter (27.1%) of dentate rural older adults received regular dental care and slightly more than one-third (36.7%) received recent dental care. Predisposing (education) and enabling (regular place for dental care) factors associated with receiving regular and recent dental care among dentate participants point to greater resources being the driving force in receiving dental care. Contrary to expectations of the Behavioral Model of Health Services, those with the least need (e.g., better self-rated oral health) received regular dental care; this has been referred to as the Paradox of Dental Need.
Regular and recent dental care are infrequent among rural older adults. Those not receiving dental care are those who most need care. Community access to dental care and the ability of older adults to pay for dental care must be addressed by public health policy to improve the health and quality of life of older adults in rural communities.
dental care utilization; aging; gerontology; rural health; minority health; public health policy
To examine the association of cognitive function with use of non-prescribed therapies for managing acute and chronic conditions, and to determine whether use of non-prescribed therapies changes over time in relation to baseline cognitive function.
200 community-dwelling adults aged 65 and older were recruited from three counties in south central North Carolina. Repeated measures of daily symptoms and treatment were collected on three consecutive days at intervals of at least one month. The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the primary cognitive measure, was collected as part of the baseline survey. Data were collected on the daily use of common non-prescribed therapies (use of prayer, ignore symptoms, over-the-counter remedies, food and beverage therapies, home remedies, and vitamin, herb, or supplements) on each of the three days of the follow-up interviews for up to six consecutive months.
Older adults with poorer cognitive function were more likely to pray and ignore symptoms on days that they experienced acute symptoms. Poorer cognitive function was associated with increased use of home remedies for treating symptoms related to existing chronic conditions.
Cognitive function may play a role in why older patients use some non-prescribed therapies in response to acute and chronic conditions.
cognitive function; self health management; health services
Evaluate similarities and differences in the self-care domain of health lifestyle among older, rural dwelling women and men.
Qualitative analysis of in-depth interview data from 62 community-dwelling older (M = 74.3 years) African and European American women and men.
Both older women and men rely heavily on over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies self-care; professional health care is typically sought when self-care is not effective. However, relative to men, women were more knowledgeable about different approaches to self-care, especially home remedies, they used a wider range of self-care activities, and they placed greater priority on self-care over professional health care.
The structure of older women’s and men’s self-care domain of health lifestyle is similar. However, there are subtle differences in health lifestyle that are likely embedded in gendered role behavior and may contribute to women’s greater health complaints.
This analysis examines the associations of oral health with social integration among ethnically diverse (African American, American Indian, white) rural older adults. Data are from a cross-sectional survey of 635 randomly selected community-dwelling adults aged 60+. Measures include self-rated oral health, number of teeth, number of oral health problems, social engagement, and social network size. Minority elders have poorer oral health than do white older adults. Most rural elders have substantial social engagement and social networks. Better oral health (greater number of teeth) is directly associated with social engagement, while the relationship of oral health to social network size is complex. The association of oral health with social engagement does not differ by ethnicity. Poorer oral health is associated with less social integration among African American, American Indian and white elders. More research on the ways oral health affects the lives of older adults is warranted.
Oral health disparities; social engagement; social network; rural aging
This study compared how education, race, and screening status affected men’s knowledge about colorectal cancer, and their views of three screenings, the fecal occult blood test (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy.
In-depth interviews were conducted with 65 African-American and white men with diverse education backgrounds with similar numbers screened and unscreened.
Education was associated with knowledge about colorectal cancer and the colonoscopy. Screening status and education were related to FOBT knowledge. Men knew little about the sigmoidoscopy.
Intervention programs should tailor education about colorectal cancer and screening by educational attainment levels, not by race.
colorectal cancer; colorectal cancer screening; health disparities; African-American
tattoo; infectious disease; Latino
Little is known about the HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) risk behaviors of Hispanic/Latino farmworkers. This study was designed to describe risk factors for HIV and STD infection, explore personal characteristics associated with condom use, and evaluate the feasibility of collecting self-report and biomarker data from farmworkers.
Self-report and biomarker data were collected from a sample of male farmworkers living in 29 camps in North Carolina during the 2008 growing season.
Over half of the 100 male workers, mean age 37.1 (range 19–68) years, reported binge drinking during the past 12 months. Forty percent of those who reported having had sex during the past three months indicated that they were under the influence of alcohol. Knowledge of HIV and STD transmission and prevention was low. Among the 25 workers who reported having had sex during the past three months, 16 and 2 reported using a condom consistently during vaginal and anal sex, respectively, and nearly one out of six workers reported paying a woman to have sex. Two workers tested positive for syphilis.
Farmworkers in this sample demonstrated significant HIV and STD risks; however, when exploring potential bivariate associations with consistent condom use no statistically significant associations were identified perhaps due to the small sample size. Because it was feasible to collect self-report and biomarker data related to HIV and STDs from Hispanic/Latino farmworkers, research needed to further explore risks and develop interventions to reduce disease exposure and transmission among this vulnerable population.