Farmer Health Check

‘Farmers Have Hearts’ campaign

22 June 2020
Community News

We have joined forces with key partners to undertake research and to help encourage the hardworking farming community to prioritise their wellbeing.

When it comes to looking after their own health, farmers often put themselves last; calling the vet can take precedence over organising a check-up with the GP. Glanbia Ireland is actively encouraging farmers to revisit their personal health priorities.

Research tells us that Irish male farmers are a high risk group for heart disease and while there is a general decline in mortality rates as a result of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the Irish population, this has not been reflected in male farmers. The rate of decline among farmers has been the lowest in any socio economic group. Glanbia Ireland is a lead participant in a transdisciplinary study that seeks to address this.

Under the ‘Farmers Have Hearts’ Cardiovascular Health Programme Glanbia Ireland joined forces with the National Centre for Men’s Health in IT Carlow and the Irish Heart Foundation, Teagasc, the HSE and University College Dublin to examine how best to engage with male farmers in improving their cardiovascular health.

The four-year study is being conducted by Teagasc PhD Walsh Scholar Diana van Doorn at the National Centre for Men’s Health at IT Carlow. The research is is gathering clear data to get insight in the cardiovascular health status of male farmers and is piloting two health interventions to support farmers with making lifestyle changes to improve their cardiovascular health. 

Glanbia Ireland has provided funding towards the research and assisted in recruiting farmer participants in the study. Of the 868 farmers participating 429 are Glanbia farmers.

Personal Health Coach

In the course of the research the participants received a free  heart health check from a qualified Irish Heart Foundation nurse at their local Glanbia Ireland location. Participating farmers could choose to take part in a health behaviour change support intervention: (i) an interactive health coaching by phone intervention; (ii) an M-Health intervention using health promoting text messages or a combination of both. Farmers also could opt for a non-intervention group. Finally all farmers were invited for a free repeat health check at 52 weeks.

It is hoped that the outcomes from the study will;

  • impact on public health policy,

  • raise farmers’ consciousness of their cardiovascular health,

  • reduce risk factors for heart disease among farmers

  • encourage farmers to access cardiovascular health services in a timely and regular fashion.

It is anticipated that the outcomes of the ‘Farmers Have Hearts’ Cardiovascular Health Programme lead to the implementation of support system for farmers to encourage taking ownership of their cardiovascular health.

Summing up the purpose of the study Audrey O’Shea, Sustainability Manager with Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, said: “At Glanbia Ireland , we believe that the ability to sustain a dairy enterprise is not only related to animal, environmental and economic care but also recognise that the health, safety and physical wellbeing of our farmers is fundamental to continued success.

Pictured: William O’Toole GI Milk Quality Manager, Brendan Kehoe GI Milk Supplier and Pauline O’Brien Irish Heart Foundation Nurse.