Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
Volume 21, Number 2, May 2010
pp. 489-503 | 10.1353/hpu.0.0300
Background. Backstretch workers are part of an itinerant labor community that cares for horses at racetracks across the U.S. Since the 1970s, this workforce has increasingly been composed of migrants, especially from Mexico and Guatemala. No studies have focused systematic attention on health concerns of this population and how illness is influenced by unique working and living conditions. Methods. We administered a survey orally to 84 backstretch workers at a Florida racetrack to understand self-reported medical history and current major health concerns. Results. The most frequent responses related to musculoskeletal injury or pain. This was followed by gastrointestinal illnesses and other chronic conditions (e.g., hypertension, diabetes). Discussion. Health concerns reflected the interplay between occupation and structural factors of poverty, stress, poor living conditions, and diet. Future studies should further examine food security, substance use, and other high-risk behaviors. Our study provides a preliminary picture of major health concerns and points to the need for enhanced regulation.