Farming struggles and triumphs: investigating the impact of a unique working environment on farming family well-being

McShane, Connar (2011) Farming struggles and triumphs: investigating the impact of a unique working environment on farming family well-being. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

[img] PDF (Thesis)
Download (3MB)
[img] PDF (Appendices)
Download (1MB)
View at Publisher Website:


This research aimed to investigate the impact of the unique work lifestyle of farming on the well-being of Australian farming families. Past organisational research suggests that role conflict and interference have a significant impact on well-being (Carlson et al., 2000; Danes et al., 2000; Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Previous research by the current author suggested that the work-home environment of farming families is unique and therefore warranted further investigation due to the potential link between the working environment and the poor mental health status of farming families of Australia (McShane & Quirk, 2009; Page & Fragar, 2002). Due to the limited availability of contextually-specific scales of stress, coping, and inter-role conflict for Australian farming families, this research sought to identify the work and lifestyle determinants of well-being through the development of farming family specific scales of stress, coping, and the work-home interface. The theoretical framework for the development of the scales followed the procedure outlined by Streiner and Norman (1989) and consisted of 6 separate studies, involving a total of 474 participants.

The first study involved interviews with 53 farming family members across Queensland and New South Wales. Interview data was analysed using Grounded Theory and Content Analysis. From this process additional themes of commitment to farming, identification with farming, adaptive and maladaptive characteristics of intergenerational farming, and farming family values were generated from the interview content alongside stress, coping, and work-home interface themes. Generated items (519 items) were prepared for the Item Reduction study which included 13 potential farming family scales pertaining to stress, coping, role interference and completion, intergenerational farming, and buffering characteristics. This study asked farming family members (N=65) to rate items for importance and relevance to the individual, with calculated means and frequencies used to reduce the item set. Items were then formatted for an Expert Review Panel (N=11) who assessed the reduced item set (246 items; n=6 scales). Expert Panel feedback, face validity, and internal consistency were used to further reduce the total item pool to 100 items. A pilot study (N=14) identified additional items for removal and finalised the item set (95 items) for the validity (N=278) and reliability (N=53) studies. The items were distributed across 5 scales and assessed against criteria for factor analysis, criterion validity, discriminant validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability. The resulting scales included the Farming Family (FF) Role Impact Scale (18 items), the FF Stressor Scale (29 items), the FF Cope Scale (25 items), the FF Buffer Scale (12 items), and the Intergenerational Farming Impact Scale (11 items). The scales adequately satisfied validation and reliability criteria including exploratory factor analysis (loadings >.3), internal consistency (Cronbach alpha >.8), and test-retest reliability (rho>.6 for 4/5 scales). Scales of well-being indicated that though farming families reported low levels of psychological distress and moderate levels of life satisfaction, the population was at risk of burnout. Cluster analytical and structural equation modelling techniques were used to identify those factors which contributed to well-being. Overall, results suggested that stressors were the leading contributor to poor well-being and role interference played a key role in psychological distress and work burnout. However the negative impacts of role interference and farming lifestyle stressors were tempered by positive coping styles and the sense of purpose, commitment and value associated with farming. Recommendations were made for policy and health promotion developers to consider the connection to farming as an asset to improve well-being and sustainability of the farming communities and industry.

Item ID: 24967
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Australia; burnout; coping; family businesses; farmers; farming communities; farming families; farms; intergenerational farming; lifestyle; measure development; mental health; psychological distress; psychology; risk assessment; role interference; rural health; satisfaction; stress; wellbeing; well-being; work environment; work-family conflict; work-home interface; working conditions; work-life balance
Related URLs:
Additional Information:

Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

McShane, Connar Jo, and Quirk, Frances (2009) Mediating and moderating effects of work–home interference upon farm stresses and psychological distress. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 17 (5). pp. 244-250.

McShane, C., Quirk, F., and Swinbourne, A. (2012) Building resilience in Australian farming communities: the relationship of farm and family to well-being. Psychology & Health, 27 (Supp 1). p. 276.

McShane, Connar, Quirk, Frances, and Swinbourne, Anne (2012) The farming family work environment: consideration of a hypothesised model of role interference. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 19 (Supp 1). p. 262.

Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2013 07:34
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology @ 50%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170107 Industrial and Organisational Psychology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920506 Rural Health @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920504 Occupational Health @ 50%
Downloads: Total: 955
Last 12 Months: 30
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page