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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(10), 4039-4054; doi:10.3390/ijerph8104039
Article

Farmer Health and Adaptive Capacity in the Face of Climate Change and Variability. Part 1: Health as a Contributor to Adaptive Capacity and as an Outcome from Pressures Coping with Climate Related Adversities

1
, 2,* , 3
 and 2
1 Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, The University of Canberra, University Drive, Bruce, ACT 2601, Australia 2 School of Sociology, College of Arts and Social Sciences, The Australian National University, ACT 0200, Canberra, Australia 3 Adaptation Research Network for Human Health, and National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian University, ACT 0200, Canberra, Australia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 July 2011 / Revised: 7 September 2011 / Accepted: 12 October 2011 / Published: 21 October 2011
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Abstract

This paper examines the role farmers’ health plays as an element of adaptive capacity. The study examines which of twenty aspects of adaptation may be related to overall health outcomes, controlling for demographic and on-farm-factors in health problems. The analysis is based on 3,993 farmers’ responses to a national survey of climate risk and adaptation. Hierarchical linear regression modelling was used examine the extent to which, in a multivariate analysis, the use of adaptive practices was predictively associated with self-assessed health, taking into account the farmer’s rating of whether their health was a barrier to undertaking farm work. We present two models, one excluding pre-existing health (model 1) and one including pre-existing health (model 2). The first model accounted for 21% of the variance. In this model better health was most strongly predicted by an absence of on-farm risk, greater financial viability, greater debt pressures, younger age and a desire to continue farming. Social capital (trust and reciprocity) was moderately associated with health as was the intention to adopt more sustainable practices. The second model (including the farmers’ health as a barrier to undertaking farm work) accounted for 43% of the variance. Better health outcomes were most strongly explained, in order of magnitude, by the absence of pre-existing health problems, greater access to social support, greater financial viability, greater debt pressures, a desire to continue farming and the condition of on-farm resources. Model 2 was a more parsimonious model (only nine predictors, compared with 15 in model 1), and explained twice as much variance in health outcomes. These results suggest that (i) pre-existing health problems are a very important factor to consider when designing adaptation programs and policies and (ii) these problems may mediate or modify the relationship between adaptation and health.
Keywords: climate change; farmer health; adaptive capacity climate change; farmer health; adaptive capacity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Berry, H.L.; Hogan, A.; Ng, S.P.; Parkinson, A. Farmer Health and Adaptive Capacity in the Face of Climate Change and Variability. Part 1: Health as a Contributor to Adaptive Capacity and as an Outcome from Pressures Coping with Climate Related Adversities. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8, 4039-4054.

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