Assessing dairy employees’ mental health status in South Dakota: Family and community

Document Type


Publication Date



American Dairy Science Association


Journal of Dairy Science




Suppl. 1






stress factors, dairy workers, focus group


Large-scale dairy farming in SD has become of great importance. Most of the dairy workers are Latinos searching for better life opportunities and personal growth. The new life choice, the lack of a close family circle and friends, and the hardship of adaptation to a new community may be associated with distress and low performance at the workplace. The study aim was to gather information on the stress factors related to family and community in dairy workers and assess how it affects their home and neighborhood conditions. Six focus groups (FG) of 1 h each in Spanish were conducted with workers (n = 50; 88% male) from México, Guatemala, and other Latino countries (54%, 30%, and 16%, respectively). Open-ended questions related to stress-causing fac- tors in their current home, home countries, and community were used. Additionally, participants shared different practices used to manage stress. Sessions were video and audio-recorded. Verbatim transcrip- tions were analyzed and coded for each quotation using ATLAS.TI software (Scientific Software Development GmbH). Around 35 and 31 factors were identified as stress related to family and community, respectively. Factors were grouped as (A) Family: 1. Lack of com- munication with family back home; 2. Inability to attend to family concerns in their home country; 3. Family estrangement due to longer distances; and 4. Less time shared with family due to job schedule; and (B) Community: 1. Language barrier; 2. Long-distance to grocery shopping; 3. Cultural differences; 4. Weather variations; 5. High-cost healthcare services; and 6. Lack of social support. The results showed that workers are more likely to be distressed due to their current life situation and working circumstances (e.g., culture differences, lack of family support, English barrier). Over time, stress may contribute to health problems like depression or anxiety. Therefore, the importance of employees’ well-being is essential in achieving consistent and successful production performance levels. Based on the results, a tri-fold brochure was designed with basic knowledge covering stress causes and ways to reduce it based on their sharing ways to reduce stress. Instructional workshops for workers designed to promote behavioral stress awareness and strategies to better manage and cope with their specific stressors are needed. Supported by HICAHS Community-Initiated Grant Program (Colorado State University).

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