Community and household socioeconomic factors associated with pesticide-using, small farm household members' health: A multi-level, longitudinal analysis

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BACKGROUND: Longitudinal studies using multi-level models to examine health inequalities in lower and middle income countries (LMICs) are rare. We explored socio-economic gradients in health among small farm members participating in a pesticide-related health and agriculture program in highland Ecuador. METHODS: We profiled 24 communities through key informant interviews, secondary data (percent of population with unsatisfied basic needs), and intervention implementation indicators. Pre (2005) and post (2007) surveys of the primary household and crop managers included common questions (education, age, and the health outcome - digit span scaled 0-10)) and pesticide-related practice questions specific to each. Household assets and pesticide use variables were shared across managers. We constructed multi-level models predicting 2007 digit span for each manager type, with staged introduction of predictor variables. RESULTS: 376 household managers (79% of 2005 participants) and 380 crop managers (76% of 2005 participants) had complete data for analysis. The most important predictor of 2007 digit span was 2005 digit span: beta (Standard Error) of 0.31(0.05) per unit for household and 0.17(0.04) for crop managers. Household asset score was next most important: 0.14(0.06) per unit for household and 0.14(0.05) for crop managers. Community percent with unsatisfied basic needs was associated with reductions in 2007 digit span: -0.04(0.01) per percent for household and -0.03(0.01) for crop managers. CONCLUSIONS: The important roles of life endowments and/or persistent neurotoxicity were exemplified by limited change in the health outcome. Gradients by household assets and community deprivation were indicative of ongoing, structural inequities within this LMIC.




Cole, D. C., Orozco, F. A., Ibrahim, S., & Wanigaratne, S. (2011). Community and household socioeconomic factors associated with pesticide-using, small farm household members’ health: A multi-level, longitudinal analysis. International Journal for Equity in Health, 10.

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