Co-designing the translation of research into practice to support mentally healthy workplaces in agricultural industries


Introduction: Australian agriculture is vulnerable to an ageing and deceasing workforce, increasing technological demands, global markets, climate change and uncertainty. This poses challenges for work demand/control, workplace support, change management, role clarity/conflict, workplace relationships and environmental conditions—ultimately increasing psychological distress and suicide risk. The Primary Producer Knowledge Network (PPKN) aims to develop practical strategies to prevent work-related mental health risks in agriculture.

Method: PPKN engaged in a detailed co-design process with farmers and industry stakeholders—including stakeholder interviews, online development and feedback workshops, and pilot testing, and delivered online due to COVID19 restrictions. Co-design was informed by mental health research, evidence-based co-design strategies for working with vulnerable consumers, and identified work-related risks to health, wellbeing and safety.

Results: 9 recommendations were derived via co-design—guiding development of an interactive web platform, roadshow, and complementary resources to meet varying digital access/expertise. Ongoing solution-focused topic development—an iterative process with experts and primary producers—reflects varied needs of industry groups and age cohorts, and drives change in the design/management of work systems.

Conclusions: PPKN addresses work-related risk factors via an approach that is relevant, meaningful and empowering for the agriculture workforce. Co-design outcomes, challenges and recommendations are applicable across occupational groups where mental health and safety are of concern.

Alison Kennedy, Sally Cunningham, Jo Macdonald, Claire McKay, Timo Dietrich, Kate Gunn, Cath Cosgrave2022Co-designing the translation of research into practice to support mentally healthy workplaces in agricultural industriesSafety and Health at Work13:S258Go to page