Despite attention to the health of low-income children in Head Start, little is known about the health of adults working for the program. The objective of our study was to compare the physical and mental health of women working in Pennsylvania Head Start programs with the health of US women who have similar sociodemographic characteristics. Data was used from a web-based survey in 2012 in which 2,199 of 3,375 (65.2%) staff in 66 Pennsylvania Head Start programs participated. For the 2,122 female respondents, we determined the prevalence of fair or poor health status, frequent unhealthy days, frequent work absences due to illness, diagnosed depression, and 3 or more of 6 physical health conditions. They compared these prevalences with those found in 2 national samples of employed women of similar age, education, race/ethnicity, and marital status. The conclusions were that women working with children in Head Start programs have poorer physical and mental health than do US women who have similar sociodemographic characteristics.
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