'It could have been a lot worse': The psychological effects of farm-related serious injury in Victoria

Margaret Murray, Jessica Beattie, Candis McLeod, Daryl Pedler, Susan A. Brumby, Belinda Gabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: The psychological response to injury is an important factor in recovery, and the development of psychological problems can result in a delay or inability to return to pre-injury function, including return to work. Farming is widely acknowledged as a stressful occupation, with non-injured farmers already at an increased risk of developing significant psychological problems, including high levels of stress and depression, and increased rates of suicide. This study aimed to investigate the psychological effects of serious farm-related injury on farmers, and how this influences their recovery. Methods: This was a qualitative study of 31 farmers in the state of Victoria, Australia, who sustained major trauma between 2007 and 2013. Participants were identified using the Victorian State Trauma Registry and underwent an in-depth, semi-structured telephone interview. Recruitment continued until data saturation was achieved, and thematic analysis was used to identify important themes from the data. Results: For many farmers, the traumatic circumstances and ongoing impact of their injury are life-changing. In this study, the psychological effects of sustaining a major farm-related injury varied between participants; however, four major interconnected themes were identified: importance of a pragmatic outlook; grief, helplessness and loss of independence; traumatic thoughts postinjury; and the importance of the support network and community. The findings of this study highlight both a reluctance for psychological assistance as well as the importance of psychological resilience and support networks to recovery. Conclusion: Overall, a positive outlook was found to be the primary enabler in the farmers' recovery. It is recommended that injured farmers should be provided with additional psychological support and advice to aid in their recovery. Additionally, psychological support services should be extended to include both the family network and the broader farming community, as these were found to experience significant short- and long-term stress following farmers' injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5323
Number of pages7
JournalRural and Remote Health
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Australia
  • Farm injury
  • Mental health
  • Resilience
  • Trauma

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