James Cook University ISSN 1445-6354
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 functioning, including return to work. Farming is widely acknowledged as a stressful occupation, with non-injured farmers already at an increased risk of developingsignificant psychological problems; including high levels of stress, depression, and increased rates of suicide. This study aimed to investigate the psychological effectsof serious farm-related injury on farmers, and how this influences their recovery.
Methods: A qualitative study of 31 Victorian farmers, who sustained major trauma between 2007 and 2013. Participants were identified using the Victorian State Trauma Registry (VSTR) 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.
Main findings: For many farmers, the traumatic circumstances and ongoing impact of their injury was a life-changing experience. The psychological effectsof sustaining a major farm-related injury varied between participants, however four major interconnected themes were identified:(i) Importance of a pragmatic outlook; (ii) Grief, helplessness and loss of independence; (iii) Traumatic thoughts post-injury; and (iv) 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 on their recovery.
Conclusion: Overall, a positive outlook was found to be the primary enabler in the farmer’s 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.