University of Illinois Extension

Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior to
Respiratory Protection Utilization and Behaviors
of East-Central Illinois Pork Producers

Robert Edward Petrea, Ph.D.
Ph.D. Thesis
College of Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1996
Edward Osborne, Advisor

Professionals within agricultural safety and health continue to seek effective methods to assist in guiding intervention activities. Recent use of behavioral psychology models has added insight into the beliefs and intentions of agricultural workers toward specific behaviors. This census study consisted of two phases. Phase one utilized the Theory of Planned Behavior to elicit the behavioral intentions, and the attitude, subjective norm, and perceived control (including underlying beliefs) of pork producers toward using respiratory protection while in confinement buildings in a specified situation. Phase two utilized the modal salient beliefs elicited in phase one to guide an intervention program consisting of group educational sessions and provision of a supply of two-strap toxic dust/mist respirators (tstd/mrs). Of specific research questions, two were (a) no difference would be seen between six-month intentions and self-reported behaviors (use) for any of the four quasi-experimental groups, and (b) six-month intention would contribute to prediction of self-reported behavior.

Both phase one and two utilized a pork producer association district, N=342. This entire population received a mailed questionnaire in phase one and an educational session invitation in phase two. 184 responded to the questionnaire, and 80 attended an educational session. One-half of questionnaire respondents attending the educational session, and one-half of questionnaire respondents not attending the educational session were randomly assigned to receive tstd/mrs through the mail.

Phase one elicited salient beliefs that tstd/mrs (a) are hot and uncomfortable, (b) help to keep dust out of lungs, and (c) are difficult to keep where needed, and health professionals and spouses are motivating influences. Attitude and subjective norm contributed equally (w~.38) in the multiple correlation with intention.

Phase two findings indicated that current use of tstd/mrs nearly doubled and that frequency of use rose from quite unlike, to neutral (neither likely nor unlikely). Research Question 1 was not supported. All groups increased self-reported use over intentions. Research Question 2 was supported with the six-month intention substantially correlated with self-reported behavior, r=.52. The model used accounted for 28% of the variance in intention, indicating other contributing factors.

The Impact of Two Intervention Strategies on Enhancing the
Utilization of Chemical Protective Equipment Among Farmers

The purpose of this study is to examine the behavior of wearing protective eyewear by Moultrie County, Illinois farmers that self-apply crop production pesticides and to test an intervention program based on the salient beliefs of those producers.

The specific objectives are:

  1. To describe the current use of chemical protective eyewear and gloves by Moultrie County, Illinois farmers.
  2. To determine the intentions and salient beliefs of these farmers associated with performing the behavior of wearing chemical protective eyewear while handling crop pesticides during a four month pesticide application period.
  3. To deliver an intervention program based on the salient beliefs of those individuals who have the intention of not or seldomly performing the behavior of wearing chemical protective eyewear while handling crop pesticides during a four month pesticide application period.
  4. To examine the effects of the intervention program on performing the behavior of wearing chemical protective eyewear while handling crop pesticides during the four month application period.

The population mean for several of the pertinent survey questions is listed below with each of the specific questions as they appeared on the survey instrument. Each of the semantic differential intention questions seeks to elicit a response representative of the individuals intentions at the time of the survey, is related to a specific behavior, is constructed to include a time frame, and follows Azjen and Fishbein guidelines (1980) in its formulation. The semantic differential behavior question seeks to elicit the frequency of performing the behavior within a specific past time period and circumstance.

How often did you wear chemical protective eyewear while handling crop pesticides during the last spring planting season.

  • Previous year behavior mean = 4.41 (n = 104)
    • Always 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Never

I intend to wear chemical protective eyewear every time I handle crop pesticides during the next four months.

  • Initial survey intention (Intention 1) mean = 5.30 (n = 104)
    • Likely extremely quite slightly neither slightly quite extremely Unlikely

I intend to wear chemical protective eyewear every time I handle crop pesticides during the next two months.

  • Time-two survey intention (Intention 2) mean = 5.67 (n = 101)
    • Likely extremely quite slightly neither slightly quite extremely Unlikely

How often did you wear chemical protective eyewear while handling crop pesticides during the last four months.

  • Final survey (Behavior) mean = 4.59 (n = 97)
    • Always 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Never

No statistically significant differences were found among the self-reported behavior of wearing chemical protective eyewear last spring planting season (4.41) and either of the intentions (5.30 & 5.67) or the behavior (4.59) during this study.

Salient Beliefs

Five salient beliefs were discovered to contribute most to the intention to perform the behavior of wearing chemical protective eyewear in the stated circumstance. The five beliefs contributing most were:

  • not having eyewear available,
  • it takes time to find them when needed,
  • I'll forget to put them on,
  • goggles are hot and uncomfortable, and
  • goggles fog up.

The salient belief of not having the eyewear available was addressed by distributing chemical protective eyewear to a portion of the population. The remaining four salient beliefs were addressed through a persuasive message delivered to a portion of the population. The assignment of the population to experimental groups is described below.

Partial Description of Findings

Cell means for each of the experimental manipulations related to the intentions and behavior of wearing chemical protective eyewear are contained in Table 1. Responses were checked on one of the seven gradations between Likely to Unlikely. Answers were coded with extremely likely being coded 7 and extremely unlikely being coded 1. Chi-Square test of association (Glass & Hopkins, 1984) computations did not reject the hypothesis of no association of the different cell groups and variables.

Table 1. Cell means for all respondents to eyewear questions. (n = 104).

  1 1 1 2 2 1 2 2
Intention 1 5.45 5.23 5.33 5.19
Intention 2 5.71 5.50 5.90 5.52
Behavior 5.00 4.26 4.52 4.57

Legend

  • 1 1 = Farmers receiving neither goggles or message
  • 1 2 = Farmers receiving only message
  • 2 1 = Farmers receiving only goggles
  • 2 2 = Farmers receiving both goggles and message

(All individuals in the population were to receive a personal chemical protective kit that contained a magnet with washing instructions for contaminated clothes, two pair of unlined nitrile gloves, two large zip-lock bags to store contaminated materials, a chemical splash apron, a spray tip cleaning brush, a generic pesticide precautions list (prepared by a university pesticide applicator trainer), and a yellow, chemical resistant bag in which to store all items. Chemical protective eyewear was not included as it was a part of the experimental manipulation. Chemical protective eyewear was chosen as a manipulation because relatively less is known concerning eyewear use. Respirators were not included due to the need of fit-testing for proper use.)

Intention 1 (Initial survey)

Used to assess the intentions of farmers' towards the behavior of wearing chemical protection eyewear during the next four months when handing crop pesticides, this period would include the spring planting season.

Intention 2 (Time-two survey)

Used to assess the intentions of farmers' towards the behavior of wearing chemical protective eyewear during the next two month when handling crop pesticides, this period would include the spring planting season. Mailed at the same time as the experimental manipulations and two months after the initial survey.

Behavior (Self-reported Behavior Postcard)

Used to assess the farmers' frequency of wearing chemical protective eyewear when handling crop pesticides during the last four month period. Mailed after the spring planting season, four months after the initial survey.

The following conclusions were drawn based on the findings of this study:

  1. The behavioral psychology Theory of Planned Behavior and its associated application methodology can be utilized in the analysis of agricultural safety behaviors.
  2. No significant, important differences regarding the wearing of chemical protective eyewear were found in the study across the experimental treatment groups or within any individual treatment cell across categories for all farmers as a group.
  3. The experimental treatments of providing goggles and providing both goggles and a persuasive message did have a positive significant effect on raising the time-two intentions of those farmers with the lowest initial intentions.
  4. Distribution of chemical personal protective equipment kits to farmers can have a slight positive effect on farmers intentions and self-reported behaviors to wear chemical protective eyewear above those that do not receive a kit.
  5. Distribution of personal chemical protective kits had a slight positive effect on the behaviors of those with the lowest intentions. The self-reported behaviors of all treatment cells for this group were higher than the initial survey intentions, even the control group that received only the personal protective kits.
  6. The lack of response to the persuasive message appeal to wear chemical protective eyewear when handling crop pesticides indicates that other training/educational efforts such as group instruction, one-on-one instruction or training sessions, and video tape educational/training materials should be studied.

A complete description of the study and its findings is contained in:

Petrea, R.E. & Aherin, R.A. (1994, December). The impact of selected intervention strategies on enhancing the utilization of chemical protective eyewear among farmers. Paper presented at the 1994 Winter Meeting of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Atlanta, GA. Paper # 945505.

Moultrie County Agricultrual Health & Safety Project
1102 West Jackson St.
Sullivan, IL 61951
217-728-4214

Chemical Protective Eyewear Review*

Now that crop farming operations are once more underway, the Moultrie County Agricultural Health and Safety Committee wishes to remind farmers of the importance of chemical protective eyewear while mixing, handling and applying pesticides. The committee wants each farmer to use Chemical Safety, For YOURSELF...and Your Family. When we use protective eyewear to safeguard our vision, we protect not only ourselves from injury but also our families from the unwanted trials involved when a loved one is hurt.

Each pesticide will have label information on what specific personal protective equipment is needed while mixing, handling and applying that particular product. This information is usually contained in the section of the label under the heading PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS and will inform the user on what personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessary. Remember, the information concerning PPE use on the label overrides any other information for precautions against chemical exposure while using the product.

The effect on the eyes (usually a form of chemical burn) of pesticides used in field crop production can vary with the toxicity of the product. These effects begin with simple irritation. Some pesticides can cause substantial, but temporary eye injury. The most hazardous can cause irreversible eye damage. The means available to protect the eyes are various types of chemical protective eyewear. These include chemical protective goggles, full face shields or a full face mask. The recent Worker Protection Standard also allows safety glasses with sideshields and browguards.

Two reasons often given by farmers for not using chemical protective eyewear appropriately are:

  • goggles are hot and uncomfortable, and
  • goggles fog up.

The availability of vented goggles has decreased the amount of heat and perspiration held inside the goggle. This increases the comfort and reduces fogging. Also, most current vented goggles are made large enough to fit over prescription glasses. The recent approval of safety glasses with sideshields and browguards provides an alternative that is less prone to fogging. The safety glasses with sideshields and browguards provide less protection to the eyes in the event of a direct chemical splash to the face. The use of a full-face shield has the advantage of allowing more air circulation with the disadvantage of being bulkier and more expensive.

Two other reasons often given by farmers for not using chemical protective eyewear appropriately are:

  • it takes time to find them when needed, and
  • I'll forget to put them on.

A suggestion made that decreases the likely-hood of having to take time to find the protective eyewear and forgetting to put them on is to store all your personal protective equipment in a brightly colored container that is kept with the chemicals at the location that mixing, handling and application is taking place. Another suggestion has been to keep chemical protective eyewear (in a separate storage bag) in multiple locations such as the tractor, truck, nurse vehicle and storage area so it is always handy where it needs to be used. Of course, the best alternative is to develop the habit of always including personal protective eyewear in the supplies needed to mix and apply your chemicals. Just as you need the chemicals themselves, water for those products that are mixed and tools for adjustments and repairs, you need to wear chemical protective eyewear to reduce the risk of injury to your eyes. Your eyes are a valuable resource that helps you be a productive farmer or farmworker. Your eyes can't be replaced.

Chemical Safety: Help Tomorrow Happen

*It is recommended that contact lens not be worn while mixing and handling pesticides as the contact lens are prone to holding the liquid against the surface of the eye. This review covers only chemical protective eyewear. Other chemical personal protective equipment that may be included on the pesticide product label are rolled down long sleeves, chemical resistant head protection, Tyvek coveralls, shoes with socks, chemical resistant boots and a chemical cartridge respirator.