New paper: Neighborhood farm density, types of agriculture, and depressive symptoms among older farmers: a cross-sectional study.

We published a new paper from BMC Public Health.

Kanamori M, Hanazato M, Kondo K, Stickley A, Kondo N. Neighborhood farm density, types of agriculture, and depressive symptoms among older farmers: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2021 Mar 4;21(1):440. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10469-6. PMID: 33663434.


Background: Farmers may have an increased risk for poor mental health. In connection with this, factors specific to the neighborhood environment such as farm density and the type of agriculture, might be important for mental wellbeing. In this study we aimed to clarify the cross-level interaction on depressive symptoms between farm density at the neighborhood level by type of agriculture and the longest occupation of individuals (farmer or non-farmer).

Methods: Data came from the 2016 wave of the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES) that were linked to governmental agricultural data. Information was analyzed from 147,549 respondents aged 65 years or older, residing in 1024 neighborhoods in 39 municipalities. We calculated farm (crop or animal husbandry) density at the neighborhood level, dividing the number of agricultural management entities by the population. Three-level (individual, neighborhood, and municipality) Poisson regression analysis was used to calculate the prevalence rate ratios of depressive symptoms.

Results: The prevalence of depressive symptoms was higher among individuals whose longest occupation was farmer compared to non-farmer. The estimated probability of depressive symptoms by a cross-level interaction analysis showed that among farmers of both genders, those who were residing in neighborhoods where the farm density was low had a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms, regardless of the type of agriculture. The slope of the relationship between depressive symptoms and animal husbandry farm density varied by occupation, with a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms observed in male farmers compared to male non-farmers.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of depressive symptoms among farmers in neighborhoods with a low farm density may reflect a scarcity of formal and informal social support in such communities. The health effects of the neighborhood environment on farmers, such as farm density, which may vary by the type of agriculture, should be further researched.

Keywords: Agriculture; Animal husbandry; Crop; Depression; Farm density; Farmer; Health effect; Japan; Neighborhood; Older adults.