Prevalence and changes in chronic diseases among South Korean farmers: 1998 to 2005

Eun Shil Cha, Kyoung Ae Kong, Eun Kyeong Moon, Won Jin Lee

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Background. Epidemiologic studies have suggested a unique pattern of disease among farmers in Western countries, but limited information is available about the magnitude of disease prevalence and their changes over time in Asian farmers. The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence and changes in chronic diseases among farmers with those of other occupational groups in South Korea. Methods. Using data from three consecutive cross-sectional national surveys: the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1998 (n = 39,060), 2001 (n = 37,769), and 2005 (n = 34,145), we calculated age and gender-standardized prevalence of chronic diseases by the direct method and compared the prevalence changes from 1998 to 2005. Results. Female farmers had significantly higher chronic disease prevalence than other occupational groups in all three surveys. Arthritis was the most prevalent chronic disease among farmers for both men and women. Compared with other populations, farmers demonstrated a higher prevalence of arthritis and intervertebral disc disorders. Farmers showed higher prevalence changes for intervertebral disc disorders than other occupational workers. Conclusion. Our findings support that South Korean farmers have a distinct pattern of diseases prevalence from other populations. More detailed studies investigating the risk of musculoskeletal diseases and intensive intervention efforts to reduce the prevalence these diseases, particularly among female farmers, are required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number268
JournalBMC Public Health
StatePublished - 2009


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