Measuring Job Characteristics and Mental Health Among Latino Farmworkers: Results from Cognitive Testing

  • Joseph G. GrzywaczEmail author
  • Toni Alterman
  • Carles Muntaner
  • Susan Gabbard
  • Jorge Nakamoto
  • Daniel J. Carroll
Original Paper


Background Few research instruments used in occupational stress research have been evaluated for acceptability and validity among immigrant Latino farmworkers. Methods Cognitive testing was completed with 40 migrant and seasonal farmworkers (21 women, 19 men) through two focus groups and 16 one-on-one interviews conducted in Texas and Florida. Participants responded to the K-6, a short form instrument designed to measure psychological distress, selected items from the Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ) and standard health items. Results The K-6 items were characterized as too long and using a higher “class” language than farmworkers use. Further, the cultural connotation of several items in the K-6 was viewed as inappropriate by farmworkers. Demand items from the JCQ were interpreted inconsistently, whereas decision latitude items were consistently understood but viewed as irrelevant to farmworkers. Conclusions The results highlight the difficulties involved in conducting research with immigrant farmworkers, and they suggest that researchers interested in studying antecedents and consequences of farmworker mental health need to select instruments cautiously.


Latino farmworkers Mental health Job characteristics Psychosocial factors Cognitive testing Survey items Qualitative 



Funding was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The authors would like to express appreciation to Dr. Ronald Kessler, Dr. Jose Aguilar-Gaxiola, and Dr. Todd Strauss for providing the K-6 in Spanish. The authors are also grateful to Drs. Thomas A. Arcury and Sara Quandt for providing a translated version of the job content items adapted for farmwork.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph G. Grzywacz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Toni Alterman
    • 2
  • Carles Muntaner
    • 3
  • Susan Gabbard
    • 4
  • Jorge Nakamoto
    • 4
  • Daniel J. Carroll
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineWake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center BoulevardWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation and Field StudiesNational Institute for Occupational Safety and HealthCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Center for Addictions and Mental HealthTorontoCananda
  4. 4.Aguirre DivisionJBS InternationalBurlingameUSA
  5. 5.Department of LaborEducation and Training AdministrationWashingtonUSA

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