TReND: Migrant Farm Workers Sampling Methodology

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About the Project

Rationale: Reports by the U.S. government (U.S. Department of Labor [1]) and by private foundations (National Center for Farmworker Health [2], California Endowment [3]) highlight the health disparities, especially cancer and respiratory, experienced by migrant farm workers. While these reports cite tobacco use among migrant farm workers as a concern, the extent of tobacco use among this population is not entirely evident. It is clear, however, that the occupational health effects experienced by migrant farm workers are aggravated by tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure. The dearth of information available may be partially explained by the difficulties in accessing and studying this relatively small population group. More specifically, there are certain characteristics associated with this population that present significant methodological challenges to conducting cross sectional and longitudinal studies. For example, migrant farm workers tend to be a seasonally-interstate-mobile population, predominantly transnational, low socioeconomic status, low literacy and/or substantially monolingual - Spanish or Mexican indigenous dialect, and distrustful of surveys due to social-legal-political reasons.

Purpose: The specific aims of this project are to: 1) to bring together a team of experts on mobile populations to discuss sampling methodology issues with migrant farm workers as related to tobacco use; (2) produce a report on sampling methodology issues and solutions to researching migrant mobile populations both in the United States and transnationally, specifically migrant farm workers; (3) establish a research agenda for mobile populations focusing on U.S. migrant farm workers that may be used as a guide for funding agencies and investigators who wish to conduct studies with this population within the realm of tobacco control; and (4) strengthen and enhance a dissemination plan to maximize the distribution of the findings by synergizing key constituents communication channels, increasing knowledge uptake and facilitating implementation. The one-day meeting of 30 experts was held on March 14, 2008 at the California Endowment in Los Angeles, California. Meeting participants included scientists, key foundations and union leaders, and government agency representatives, as well as key community representatives and stakeholders who work directly with these populations.

Impact: TReND’s investigators will prepare a meeting report and will consult with key meeting members and participating organizations to develop and implement an efficient and expansive dissemination plan for distributing the meeting report. The goal of the dissemination plan is to ensure wide distribution to key audiences – scientist, advocate, private foundations, and federal government agencies, and impacted communities. The report will also include a comprehensive research agenda designed to address the methodological issues in conducting tobacco-related and other health research among migrant farm workers and ultimately help eliminate tobacco-related disparities and improve the overall health of this population. TReND’s investigators will also disseminate the significant meeting and report findings through peer-reviewed journal publications and presentations at major professional conferences.


  1. U.S. Department of Labor (2005). A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farm Workers: Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2001-2002. Washington, DC.
  2. National Center for Farmworkers Health. Fact Sheets About Farmworkers.
  3. Gilman DJ (2006). Paradox in Paradise: Hidden Health Inequities on California’s Central Coast. San Luis Obispo, CA.

Steering Committee

Francisco O. Buchting, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator and Meeting Chair)
ETR Associates

Susanna Bohme, Ph.D. (Science Writer)
Brown University

Linda Alexander, Ed.D.
University of Kentucky

Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Ph.D., M.P.H.
University of Southern California

Xochitl Castaneda
Health Initiative of the Americas

Nuria Ciofalo
The California Endowment

Pebbles Fagan, Ph.D., M.P.H.
National Cancer Institute

Maria Teresa Hernandez
California HIV/AIDS Research Program

Contact Us

Principal Investigator and Meeting Chair
Francisco O. Buchting, Ph.D.
Vice President Program Services Division
ETR Associates

Project Activities and Findings

Migrant Farmworkers Sampling Methodology Meeting (March 14, 2008, California Endowment, Los Angeles, CA).

Other Resources and Publications

Related TReND Projects
LGBT of Color Sampling Methodology

Select Scientific Publications and Articles
Aguirre International (2005). The California Farm Labor Force: Overview and Trends from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS). Prepared for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Casas JM, Bimbela A, Corral CV, Yafiez I, Swaim RC, Wayman JC, Bates S (1998). Cigarette and smokeless tobacco use among migrant and nonmigrant Mexican American Youth. Hisp J Behav Sciences exit disclaimer; 20: 102-121.

Cooper SP, Weller NF, Fox EE, Cooper SR (2005). Comparative description of migrant farmworkers versus other students attending rural south Texas schools: substance use, work, and injuries. JRural Health; (21) 4: 361-366.

Farmworker Identification According to Public Law 104-299.

Magnani R, Sabin K, Saidel T, Heckathorn D (2005). Review of sampling hard-to-reach and hidden populations for HIV surveillance. AIDS; 19 (suppl 2):S67–S72.

Mines R, Hausman J, Tabshouri L (2005). The Need for Targeted Surveys of Farmworkers: A Comparison of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and the California Agricultural Worker Health Survey (CAWHS). California Institute for Rural Studies. Report prepared for the California Program on Access to Care.

Villarejo D, McCurdy SA (2008). The California Agricultural Workers Health Survey. J Agricult Safety Health. 14(2): 135-146.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and American Legacy Foundation are proud to fund the Tobacco Research Network on Disparities (TReND). Previous support has also been provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office on Women’s Health, NCI Office of Women’s Health, and the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.