It’s wheat harvest season – Farmer health a focus

With spring arriving Australia’s wheat-harvesting season is now under way, a time well known to many South Australia farmers.  

The Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health is offering two vacation summer scholarships for students to undertake a 6-10 week project in rural SA with Associate Professor James Dollman from the University of South Australia.

The first project will address relatively high rates of musculoskeletal injury, including lower back pain, in farmers. These conditions reduce quality of life and limit engagement in regular physical activity in farmers among whom the prevalence of chronic disease is unacceptably high.  Associate Professor Dollman and his team at Health Sciences at the University of SA will use the latest biomechanical techniques to measure spinal rotation and overall lifting techniques in farmers as they undertake usual physical tasks on the farm, to investigate opportunities to alter these techniques to reduce the risk of back pain.

The second project will look at the irregular work hours of farmers and stress levels that are somewhat higher than the rest of the population, both of which are likely to reduce quality of sleep. Poor sleep quality in turn may contribute to the relatively high rates of chronic disease observed among farmers. The study will compare data from a widely used self-report measure of sleep quality with data from an objective measure of sleep quality worn at the wrist, among a sample of 30 farmers.

Students interested in being involved in these projects should contact the Centre at

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