GP and part-time farmer Dr Rebecca Orr is completing research through Queens University Belfast on farmers' health, seeking behaviours when they are at risk of cardiometabolic diseases (heart disease, stroke or diabetes).

The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) is partner in the research ‘Farm Cardio Study’, as they hope to learn more about how to better communicate health messaging to farmers and their families.

Ultimately, they want to encourage GP’s and others to factor farmers lifestyle into how they are treated as patients, for example out of hours appointments.

“This research is unique in that it is being designed by farmers for farmers. It’s the first piece of medical research that the Ulster Farmers Union have delved into.

"We hope to identify the factors that influence farmers' decision making when it comes to seeking medical advice,” says Dr Orr.

“For example, when a farmer is told to go and see a GP and they decide not to go, what we’re hoping to do is isolate what happens in the minds of the farmers who do go and what happens in the minds of the farmers who don’t go, using the behavioural change model.”

Improving human health

Dairy farmer and Nuffield scholar from Antrim Gary Thompson co-designed the study and is encouraging farmers to participate, as it will help to improve human health on farms.

“The study poses questions about what we think a good farmer is and how we prioritise competing demands on farm in terms of our own health, animal health and financial health.

"I would invite as many farmers as possible to complete it. It is thought provoking, totally confidential and the data gained will help improve human health on farm in future. It might just be the most important thing you do in 2024,” says Gary.

Survey responses

The survey is live and the group are seeking responses for farmers across all sectors in Ireland and the UK. To complete the survey, click here.

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