COVID-19 molecule

Research Highlight: Punjabi-Speaking Farmworkers Need Tailored Educational Resources

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This article summarizes the findings of the publication “COVID-19 Education and Resource Development for Punjabi-Speaking Sikh Farmworkers in California” by Anuvir Singh et al. published in the Journal of Agromedicine in 2023.

Although most farmworkers in California are Latinx, there is a population of Punjabi-speaking Sikh farmers contributing to fruit and nut production throughout the state. However, there are few resources—particularly those related to COVID-19 education and prevention—tailored to Punjabi-speaking Sikh farmworkers.

About the Study
Punjabi resource from Singh et al. 2023
Figure 1. The practices farmworkers can adopt to stay safe from contracting COVID-19 while working in the fields. Figure from Singh et al. 2023.

The research team conducted a study to determine the educational needs and preferences of Punjabi-speaking farmworkers.

To better understand the COVID-19 educational needs of Punjabi-speaking farmworkers, a two-phase qualitative study was conducted in 2021. First, semi-structured interviews were conducted in Fresno County with five key informants to assess the cultural relevance of a selection of existing COVID-19 resources. Based on feedback from these interviews, the authors created and modified COVID-19 educational resources. In total, four informational handouts, two videos, and two radio messages were created. Handouts were typed using the Gurmukhi script.

During the second phase of the qualitative study, three focus groups (15 individuals in total) were asked to provide feedback on the new COVID-19 educational resources. The focus groups ranged from 45 to 60 minutes in length and were held in Fresno and Yuba counties. All interviews, including in the first phase of the study, were conducted in Punjabi and all participants were men.

Study Results

All participants were interested in receiving additional COVID-19 information tailored to their culture and language. The following key themes related to resource preferences resulted from the semi-structured and focus group interviews:

1) Print materials

The handouts created for this study were well-received by focus group participants. Participants strongly preferred the use of photographs of Punjabi farmworkers rather than illustrations. They also agreed that text should be clear and limited, with a balance of text and photographs. Participants also preferred colorful handouts compared to black and white handouts. One participant stated,

“These are really good. I would have liked these resources in the early days of the pandemic. There were no written resources shared with us in the early times of the pandemic.”

Other focus group members unanimously agreed with statement.

2) Radio messages

Radio messages were also well-received by the interviewees. One participant stated,

“We would like to hear such messages on the radio. I keep my radio on all the time—in my car and at home.”

3) Videos

Similar to print materials, participants preferred to see live action Punjabi people in video messages rather than animated videos. Short videos of one to three minutes were preferred over longer videos. One challenge with videos was that participants stated that they did not know how to search for videos or that they did not have smart phones on which to view videos. One participant stated,

“I like videos, but I have difficulty using them, so I prefer to hear messages on the radio.”

A possible solution to the challenge of accessing videos is playing the video messages in Punjabi grocery stores or providing a print handout with a QR code that goes directly to videos.

The results indicate that Punjabi-speaking farmworkers need culturally and linguistically tailored educational resources. Resources should also be created in different formats (e.g., print, audio, and video) to allow for increased accessibility to this community.

Study Recommendations

The preferences described by Punjabi-speaking farmworkers related to print, audio, and video resources should be taken into consideration when creating future resources for this community. The overall sentiment of focus group participants was that they desire more health and safety resources tailored to their community and in their language. This research should be expanded to a larger number of Punjabi-speaking farmworkers across California, including women farmworkers, to allow for a more complete understanding of resources needed by Punjabi-speaking farmworkers.

Additional Resources