Research Centre

Research Peer reviewed publications   Published reports   Presentations

Evidence-based research underpins all activities of the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH). Research programs will aim to build ongoing understanding of effective interventions that improve the health and safety of the agricultural workforce, their families and communities.

The Centre’s research is outcome driven to ensure that research positively impacts policies, practices and education that guide current rural health service delivery.

NCFH focuses on areas where research can make a difference in reducing disease and injury among farm men and women, agricultural workers and their families. One of the primary goals is to further investigate the identified health issues from earlier research and develop interventions that positively impact the lives of Australian farmers.

NCFH works with other academic institutions, health care providers and agricultural organisations to improve the quality, effectiveness, and appropriateness of health care.

Research areas

Research is currently being conducted into the following areas:

  • New Research:
  • Financing Fortitude: evaluating scholarship in strengthening Victorian rural woman and agriculture
    This research project investigates a group of Victorian women who attended the 2nd International Conference on Women in Agriculture in Washington DC, 1998. Following the rural women’s movement of the 1980s and 1990s, the Conference was designed to recognise the contribution of women, globally, to agriculture, education programs in rural areas and commitment to furthering the status of rural women. Moreover, attending the Conference provide women with the opportunity to further develop their skills and knowledge through exposure to the ideas of women involved in agriculture throughout the world. Acknowledging a selection of Victorian women for their ongoing contributions to agriculture and rural women’s issues, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment awarded 20 travel bursaries and organised a pre-Conference Agricultural Tour through California. Limited follow-up evaluation has explored whether the intended objectives and outcomes of the Conference and travel bursaries were realised. This research will measure Conference attendees’ association between different elements of the experience and their career choices in the last two decades. Findings will improve understanding of the opportunity for growth and progress when investing in Victorian agricultural women.
  • In-field Personalised Cholinesterase Assessment Project (In-field PCAP)
    A 12 month study funded by the Shepherd Foundation  grant to conduct a much needed research that will form the basis of a database of cholinesterase activity (an enzyme inhibited by organophosphate pesticides) from farmers exposed to agricultural pesticides in their workplace.  Organophosphates have been associated with chronic neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s in sheep farmers in particular. The critical window for exposure to toxicants may occur years before the onset of neurological symptoms. This research also aims to assess and improve the integration of cholinesterase monitoring into routine agricultural health clinics and in the field, whilst providing farming people with a link between their individual cholinesterase activity and their household and agrichemical use.
    Please contact Dr. Jacquie Cotton: j.cotton@deakin.edu.au or call (03) 5551 8533.
  • The Ripple Effect (STRIDE Project)
    Click here to read more about the Ripple Effect, it’s Steering Group, and to receive updates.

    The Ripple Effect is an online intervention designed to investigate what works to reduce the self-stigma (negative attitudes you have towards yourself) and perceived-stigma (negative attitudes you believe others have about you) among males from the farming community, aged 30-64 years, who have been bereaved by suicide, attempted suicide, cared for someone who attempted suicide, have had thoughts of suicide, or been touched by suicide in some other way. The intervention will provide:
    1. Opportunity for anonymously sharing experiences in a peer-supported environment.
    2. Opportunity to increase knowledge and literacy about the lived experience of suicide (challenging suicide myths and framing experience in a contextual way, facilitating help-seeking where required).

    3. Encouragement for a positive cycle by which the disruption of the negative feedback of self-stigma and perceived-stigma will also reduce stigma in others.
    The Ripple Effect is funded by beyondblue with donations from the Movember Foundation. It is a partnership between the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH), Deakin University, Victorian Farmers’ Federation, AgChatOZ, Sandpit, Western District Health Service and Mental Illness Fellowship North Queensland.
  • Fitter Farmers
    Fitter Farmers is a research study funded through Deakin University which aims to paint a detailed picture of the amount and type of physical activity our agricultural and regional communities are involved in day-to-day, which will help us to develop better health promotion and disease prevention programs for our agricultural communities. Exercise is increasingly recognised as being protective against chronic disease, and beneficial to mental health. However, little is known about physical activity levels of farmers, or how they compare to other workforces.  This means that the development of effective physical activity programs or recommendations to improve farmer health and prevent disease is challenging.  The Fitter Farmers study will compare physical activity levels in farm-based agriculture, regional healthcare and urban workers. Identification of activity patterns in these workforce groups will provide a strong foundation for development of physical activity and exercise-based programs to enrich life-style, prevent disease, and improve mental health outcomes for Australian farmers.
  • Cholinesterase Research Outreach Project (CROP) – Measuring organophosphate exposure in western Victorian farmers – 2013
    A 6 month Deakin University research grant to conduct a much needed study that will form the basis of a database of cholinesterase activity (an enzyme inhibited by organophosphate pesticides) from farmers exposed to agricultural pesticides in their workplace.  Organophosphates have been associated with chronic neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s in sheep farmers in particular. The critical window for exposure to toxicants may occur years before the onset of neurological symptoms. This study also aims to assess and improve the integration of cholinesterase monitoring into routine agricultural health clinics, whilst providing farming and non-farming people with a link between their cholinesterase activity and their household and agrichemical use.
  • NHMRC grant application – shhh hearing in a farming environment
    The National Centre for Farmer Health has been successful in receiving funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council to commence in 2012.Our partners with this grant are:
    o    Australian National University
    o    National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health
    o    Deakin University
    o    National Centre for Farmer Health
    o    National Acoustic Laboratories

Two out of three farmers are affected by hearing loss. Farmers as a group are particularly at risk as their workplace is also their home. They are also exposed to many different and unique sources of noise on farms. This project tests the hypothesis that participating in early intervention hearing services focussed towards farming families will contribute to (a) significant reduction in the impact of hearing loss on farmers and (b) educate and empower farmers on their capacity to reduce their noise exposure.

This project was funded by the National Health and Medicine Research Council (NHRMRC) Project Grant GNT 1033151. Research partners include the National Centre for Farmer Health, Deakin University, University of Canberra and the National Acoustic Laboratories.

Publications from above grant:

Brumby, S., Williams, W., Hogan A. (2016). Shhh hearing in a farming environment. Final Report for the Department of Health and Ageing.

Hogan, Anthony, Phillips, Rebecca L., Brumby, Susan A., Williams, Warwick, Mercer-Grant, Catherine, (2015). Higher social distress and lower psycho-social wellbeing: examining the coping capacity and health of people with hearing impairment, Disability and Rehabilitation, Early Online: 1-6.

Brumby, S. (2014). Making Connections: The 2014 Libby Harricks Memorial Oration [Monograph] (pp. 7-34). Sydney: Deafness Forum Limited. Retrieved from http://www.deafnessforum.org.au/images/pdf/2014%20Libby%20Harricks%20Memorial%20Oration.pdf

Williams, W., Brumby, S., Calvano, A., Hatherell, T., Mason, H., Mercer-Grant, C. and Hogan, A. (2015). Farmers’ work-day noise exposure. Australian Journal of Rural Health, vol. 23(2): pp.67–73. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12153

For further information please contact the National Centre for Farmer Health on 5551 8533.

  • Sustainable Farm Families™ Future Directions 2009-2011
    This project provided ongoing evidence-based information to support and inform future health, wellbeing and safety directions for Australia’s agricultural industries. The project focused on extending our understanding of the initial SFF program, implemented in the broad acre, cotton and sugar industries (2003-2006), in a longitudinal study. This project is in partnership with La Trobe University, Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities, Farm 500 Bendigo and funded by the Collaborative Partnership for Farming and Fishing Health and Safety managed by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. An independent external evaluation was undertaken by Roberts Evaluation of the Future Directions program and can be found below. The final report was submitted with RIRDC at the end of April 2011.Evaluation of Sustainable Farm Families Future Directions by Roberts Evaluation [PDF 2mb]
  • Sustainable Farm Families™: Future Directions (March 2013)
    The health and wellbeing of all Australians is pivotal for economic and social success of the nation. Current data reveals that the health status of people living in rural and remote populations is poorer than their metropolitan counterparts. However there is a lack of understanding of the specific health statistics of rural farming populations.The Sustainable Farm Families (SFF) Future Directions program aims to fill this gap by providing ongoing evidence-based information and support to Australia’s agricultural industries, to gain insight into the health, wellbeing and safety of Australia’s rural farming populations.Sustainable Farm Families: Future Directions (March 2013) [PDF 1.8mb] 
  • Sustainable Farm Families Program
    Victorian Auditor General’s Report September 2010 2010-11:7In 2010 the Victorian Auditor General undertook an audit of the Sustainable Farm Families™ program as funded through the Victorian Department of Primary Industries drought recovery program. (2007) The audit examined whether the SFF program has been effective in improving the health and wellbeing of farming families in Victoria. It reviewed:

– The program’s rationale and planning;
– Its implementation; and
– Evidence of its effectiveness.

Conclusions from the report were that participants report that they have learned from the program and have changed their behaviour as a result. This is borne out by clinical indicators that show their health is improving. Together these indicate the SFF program is effective in improving participants’ health.

Victorian Auditor-General (VAGO) Report,  September 2010 [PDF 981kb]

  • Sustainable Dairy Farm Families™ – Future Directions 2010-2012.
    This project will provide ongoing evidence-based information to support and inform future health, wellbeing and safety directions for Victorias dairy industries. The project focuses on extending our understanding of the initial SFF dairy program, implemented in 11 dairy communities across Victoria during 2005 – 2007. We will be revisiting the same communities and undertaking a longitudinal health, wellbeing and safety study during 2011.   Importantly we will also be providing health assessment, information and education and referral. This project is in partnership with La Trobe University, Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities, Bendigo, United Dairy farmers Victoria and funded by the Gardiner Foundation and Colac Community Enterprise. Sustainable Dairy Farm Families™ – Future Directions is expected to be completed and reported on by June 2012.

Doctoral research

Farm work and family health

Investigator: Susan Brumby

This is a study on farming family health across selected agricultural industries in Australia. The study will explore the attitudes of farming families towards health, wellbeing and safety. This research investigates success of the Sustainable Farm Families program at implementing and evaluating interventions that protect and enhance the health, wellbeing and safety of farmers and their families.

The project will work from the health promotion, occupational health and safety, extension and social science disciplines and explore the relationship between agricultural industries, interventions and the changes in farming family health outcomes and attitudes.

Brumby, S. (2013). Farm Work and Family Health: A Study on Farming Family Heath across selected Agricultural Industries in Australia. (Doctoral dissertation), La Trobe University, Bendigo. Australia. Retrieved from http://arrow.latrobe.edu.au:8080/vital/access/manager/Repository/latrobe:37275

Farming Families Wellbeing and Bereavement

Investigator: Alison Kennedy

This a study exploring the impact that death by external causes (suicide, accident, homicide and deaths by unknown cause/intent) has on adult members of farming families. This mixed methods study focusses on the lived experience of bereavement within the unique living and working environment of farming families. Community members willing to share their experiences are invited to complete a questionnaire and an in-depth interview exploring the occurrence and impact of loss. This exceptional insight will allow for the challenging of assumptions, the development of more appropriate prevention strategies and the understanding of external cause bereavement more broadly.This study is currently inviting participation from adult members of farming families bereaved by a death through external causes. For further information please contact Alison Kennedy, at the National Centre for Farmer Health on 5551 8587.

Rural paramedics’ choice of destination hospital for paediatric patients

Investigator: Kate Kloot

The project uses a mixed methods approach and examines how paramedics believe they determine a destination hospital (focus group and surveys), the factors that appear to influence their choice (Ambulance Victoria case data) and the impact their decision has on hospital transfers (hospital data).

Publications

Books and book chapters:

Brumby, S. (2016). Australia and New Zealand. Agricultural Medicine: Rural Occupational and Environmental Health, Safety, and Prevention. K. J. Donham and A. Thelin. Iowa,  USA, Wiley Blackwell: 487-493.

Gregory, G., Phillips, R., & Brumby, S. (2014). Three Decades of Rural Health In A. Hogan & M. Young (Eds.), Rural and Regional Futures (pp. 206-225). Abingdon, OXON: Routledge.

Sowing the Seeds of Farmer Health

Peer reviewed publications

  1. Brumby SA, Ruldolphi J, Rohlman D, Donham KJ.  Translating agricultural health and medicine education across the Pacific: a United States and Australian comparison study. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2017; 17: 3931. NEW
  2. M. Amber Sajjad, Kara L. Holloway, Mark A. Kotowicz, Patricia M. Livingston, Mustafa Khasraw, Sharon Hakkenes, Trisha L. Dunning, Susan Brumby, Richard S. Page, Daryl Pedler, Alasdair Sutherland, Svetha Venkatesh, Sharon L. Brennan-Olsen, Lana J. Williams, Julie A. Pasco (2016) Ageing, chronic disease and injury: a study in western Victoria (Australia)
  3. Kloot, K., Salzman, S., Kilpatrick, S., Baker, T., Brumby, S.(2016) Initial destination hospital of paediatric prehospital patients in rural Victoria Emergency Medicine Australasia (early view – online only)
  4. Cotton, J., Lewandowski, P., Brumby, S. (2015) Cholinesterase Research Outreach Project (CROP): measuring cholinesterase activity and pesticide use in an agricultural community. BMC Public Health, vol 15, August, pp. 748-753
  5. Smit-Kroner, C., Brumby, S. (2015) Farmers sun exposure, skin protection, and public health campaigns: An Australian Perspective, Preventive Medicine Reports, vol 2, July, pp. 602-607
  6. Morrissey, H., Ball, P., and Brumby, S., (2015) Special health needs of Australian farmers. The Australian Journal of Pharmacy, vol. 96, March, pp. 94-97.
  7. Williams, W., Brumby, S., Calvano, A., Hatherell, T., Mason, H., Mercer-Grant, C. and Hogan, A. (2015). Farmers’ work-day noise exposure. Australian Journal of Rural Health, vol. 23(2): pp.67–73. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12153
  8. Hogan, Anthony, Phillips, Rebecca L., Brumby, Susan A., Williams, Warwick, Mercer-Grant, Catherine, (2015). Higher social distress and lower psycho-social wellbeing: examining the coping capacity and health of people with hearing impairment, Disability and Rehabilitation, Early Online: 1-6.
  9. Morrissey, Hana, Cotton, Jacqueline, and Ball, Patrick, (2014). Q-fever and Australian farmers: is the health system paying enough attention? A literature review, The Australian Journal of Pharmacy, vol.95, July, pp. 64-67.
  10. Cotton, Jacquie, Brumby, Susan, Lewandowski, Paul, Calvano, Adrian, (2014). Cholinesterase Research Outreach Project (CROP) – Measuring Cholinesterase Activity of Australian Farmers, Journal of Agromedicine, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 210-211.
  11. Brumby, S. (2014). Making Connections: The 2014 Libby Harricks Memorial Oration [Monograph] (pp. 7-34). Sydney: Deafness Forum Limited. Retrieved from http://www.deafnessforum.org.au/images/pdf/2014%20Libby%20Harricks%20Memorial%20Oration.pdf
  12. Kennedy AJ, Maple MJ, McKay K, Brumby SA  (2014). Suicide and accidental death in Australia’s rural farming communities: a review of the literature. Rural and Remote Health 14: 2517.
  13. Rogers, Maureen, Barr, Neil, O’Callaghan, Zoe, Brumby, Susan, Warburton, Jeni (2013). Healthy ageing: Farming into the twilight. Rural Society Journal, vol. 22, Work and Environment, pp. 251-262. doi: 10.5172/rsj.2013.22.3.251
  14. Brumby, Susan, Chandrasekara, Ananda, Kremer, Peter,  Torres, Susan, McCoombe, Scott and Lewandowski, Paul (2013), The effect of physical activity on psychological distress, cortisol and obesity: results of the farming fit intervention program, BMC Health, vol.13, no.1018
  15. Lunner Kolstrup, C., Kallioniemi, M., Lundqvist, P., Kymalainen, H. R., Stallones, L., & Brumby, S. (2013). International perspectives on psychosocial working conditions, mental health, and stress of dairy farm operators. J Agromedicine, 18(3), 244-255. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2013.796903
  16. Kennedy, Alison, Mellor, David, McCabe, Marita, Ricciardelli, Lina, Brumby, Susan, Head, Alexandra and Mercer-Grant, Cate (2013) Training and Experience of Nurses Responding to Alcohol Misuse in Rural Communities, Public Health Nursing
  17. Brumby, Susan, Kennedy, Alison and Chandrasekara, Ananda (2013), Alcohol Consumption, Obesity, and Psychological Distress in Farming Communities – An Australian Study, Journal of Rural Health, Vol.29, no. 2, pp.1-9
  18. Mellor, David, McCabe, Marita, Ricciardelli, Lina A, Brumby, Susan, Head, Alexander, Mercer-Grant, Catherine, and Kennedy, Alison (2012), Evaluation of an alcohol intervention training program for nurses in rural Australia, Journal of Research in Nursing, Vol.18, no. 6, pp.561-575
  19. Brumby, Susan, Chandrasekara, Ananda, McCoombe, Scott, Kremer, Peter and Lewandowski, Paul (2012), Cardiovascular risk factors and psychological distress in Australian farming communities, Australian Journal of Rural Health, Vol.20, no. 3, pp.131-137
  20. Willder, Stuart and Brumby, Susan (2012), Health Status and Behaviours of Australian Farming Men, New Male Studies: An International Journal, Vol.1, pp.34-48
  21. Mercer-Grant, Cate, Brumby, Susan, Hatherell, Tracey and Harper, Tracey (2011), Exploring and improving farmer health across Victoria – a response to drought, 18th International Farm Management Congress Vol.1, pp. 224-234
  22. Brumby, Susan, Chandrasekara, Ananda, McCoombe, Scott, Torres, Susan, Kremer, Peter and Lewandowski, Paul (2011), Reducing psychological distress and obesity in Australian farmers by promoting physical activity, BMC Public Health, vol. 11, no. 362
  23. Brumby, Susan, Kennedy, Alison J., Mellor, David, McCabe, Marita P., Ricciardelli, Lina A, Head, Alexandra and Mercer-Grant, Cate (2011) The Alcohol Intervention Training Program (AITP): A response to alcohol misuse in the farming community, BMC Public Health, vol. 11, no. 242
  24. Baker, Tim, McCoombe, Scott, Mercer-Grant, Cate and Brumby, Susan (2011) Farmers with acute chest pain are uncertain how and when to seek help : A pilot study, Emergency medicine Australasia, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 1-9
  25. Brumby, Susan, Chandrasekara, Ananda, McCoombe, Scott, Kremer, Peter and Lewandowski, Paul (2011) Farming fit? Dispelling the Australian agrarian myth., BMC Research Notes, vol. 4, no. 89
  26. Brumby, Susan, Willder, Stuart and Martin, John (2010), Milking their health for all its worth? Improving the health of farming families through facilitated learning, Extension Farming Systems Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 1-10
  27. Blackburn, Justin, Brumby, Susan, Willder, Stuart and McKnight, Robert (2009), Intervening to improve health indicators among Australian farm families, Journal of Agromedicine, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 345-356
  28. Brumby, Susan and Smith, Andrew (2009), ‘Train the trainer’ model: implications for health professional and farm family health in Australia, Journal of Agromedicine, Vol.14, no. 2, pp. 112-118
  29. Brumby SA, Willder SJ, Martin J.The Sustainable Farm Families project: changing attitudes to health. Rural and remote health 9 (online), 2009: 1012 PMID:1929570
  30. Eversole, R, Brumby, Susan and Jack, E (2007), Toward responsive community services: consumer participation in rural counselling service, Rural Social Work and Community Practice, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 15-22
  31. Brumby, Susan, Eversole, Robyn and Watt, Leanne (2007), Rural youth and multimedia: an interagency approach, Youth Studies Australia, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 29-36

Published reports

  1. Brumby, S.A., Wilson, B., & Willder, S. (2008). Living longer on the land – sustainable farm families in broad acre agriculture. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, RIRDC Publication No 08/048Canberra
  2. Brumby, S.A., Martin, J. & Willder, S. (2008). Living longer on the Land – case studies of the SustainableFarm Families Program in the Sugar and Cotton Industries. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, RIRDC Publication No 08/049Canberra.
  3. Boymal, J., Rogers, P., Brumby, S., and Willder, S. (2007). Living longer on the land: A health program that works. An economic evaluation of the Sustainable Farm Families Program. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, RIRDC Publication No 07/094Canberra.

Evaluations

Miller, I. (2017). Evaluation of the National Centre for Farmer Health – Literature Review. Siggins Miller, Kenmore  QLD. NEW

In June  2017, Siggins Miller Consultants (an Australian company which operates domestically in all states and territories and internationally in the region) completed a literature review about farmer health and agricultural medicine as part of a mid-term evaluation of the National Centre for Farmer Health. The overarching aim was to examine the literature for issues of need, effectiveness, efficiency and relevance to Australian farmers’ health, wellbeing and safety. Searches were conducted in PubMed, Google Scholar, Medline, journal articles and online sources.  Do to the usefulness of the review and requests we have made it available to our farmer health website users.

Sustainable Farm Families Impact Evaluation
Roberts Evaluation Pty Ltd was contracted by the Department of Primary Industries in 2008 to provide an external evaluation of the Sustainable Farm Families program.  A qualitative approach was taken to explore in depths the impacts the program has had on participants and to attribute how the program has created or contributed to any changes observed in the data on health outcomes.

The SFF program is also regularly evaluated through a number of different frameworks:

Presentations 2016

  • Health, wellbeing and safety of farming communities in a changing climate
    Invited Speaker and Panelist
    ANMF Health and Environmental Sustainability Conference
    Melbourne, Australia, April
  • Protecting what matters
    Invited Panel Member: Susan Brumby
    Australian Industry Dairy Council
    Melbourne, Australia, April
  • Sustainable Farm Families
    Invited speaker: Susan Brumby
    Vic Health Workplace Mental Health Collaboration
    Melbourne, Australia, March

Presentations 2015

Presentations 2014

Presentations 2013

Presentations 2012

Presentations 2011

Presentations 2009

Presentations 2005 - 2007

Conferences