News Release: School of Nursing

Nov. 4,  2009

Study Explores Pregnant Farmworkers' Perceptions of Occupational Risks

News Article ImageLinda McCauley, RN, PhD, FAAN, professor and dean of Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Emory University School of Nursing researchers have received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to examine how pregnant farmworkers perceive their risks for certain environmental and occupational hazards.

The study, titled “Pregnancy Health among Florida Farmworkers,” will explore how female farmworkers in nursery and fernery operations in Florida assess their risks for work-related hazards, specifically those that may impact pregnancy outcomes, such as exposure to heat, chemicals and pesticides as well as ergonomic challenges.

“Exposure to agricultural chemicals is a major occupational and reproductive hazard, and other factors such as long periods of standing, exposure to heat and dehydration also have the potential to impact the health of pregnant women and their unborn children,” says study principal investigator Linda McCauley, RN, PhD, FAAN, professor and dean of Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

McCauley and team will create culturally and linguistically appropriate educational materials emphasizing health promotion and protective behaviors during pregnancy for female farmworkers. In addition, Maureen Kelly, PhD, CNM, MS, clinical associate professor in the Emory School of Nursing and study co-principal investigator, will develop strategies to improve farmworkers’ access to prenatal care.

“Our aim is to identify culturally appropriate interventions to decrease the impact of environmental and occupational health hazards among this very vulnerable population group,” says McCauley.

Funded as part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) and CDC initiative of Research to Action, McCauley and Emory researchers will partner with researchers from the University of Florida and the University of Cincinnati to build a community partnership with the Farmworker Association of Florida and the Farmworker Health and Safety Institute based in New Jersey.

Together with community advocates, the research team will develop and test workplace and educational strategies to improve the health of female farmworkers to ensure that all pregnant women receive the essential prenatal care they and their babies need.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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