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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Working Conditions and Health in Central America

Project Overview


In Central America, there is a lack of systematic, reliable and accurate data on the prevalence, nature, and possible effects of working and labor conditions, including the prevalence of work-related and gender-based violence. Existing data are generally considered unreliable because of poor quality or scant distribution.

To fill some of these gaps, David Gimeno, PhD, Director of the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH), the NIOH-funded Educational and Research Center in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences (EHGES) at UTHealth School of Public Health has led the effort to conduct the Second Central American Working Conditions and Health Survey (II ECCTS for its Spanish acronym). This work was performed in collaboration with colleagues from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, and SALTRA (acronym in Spanish for “Health and Work”), a Central American network of research institutes and universities headquartered in Costa Rica at the Universidad Nacional. The project was conducted under a Cooperative Agreement between the USDOL Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health (UTSPH), and co-sponsored by the USDOL Chief Evaluation Office (CEO). 

The work for the II ECCTS began after the I ECCTS, conducted in 2011, and which surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 12 thousand workers across each of the six Spanish-speaking country in Central America (i.e., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama).  The II ECCTS followed the same methodology interviewing over 9000 workers in the same six countries. The survey was supplemented by focus groups in each country that gathered a total of 137 participants. The main aim of the II ECCTS was to identify the levels of prevalence and the nature of working conditions, health, labor rights (including non-discrimination) and social protection benefits, and work-related violence in Central America. The survey assessed topics related to general working (e.g., hazardous exposures) and employment conditions (e.g., contract type, labor rights) and health (e.g., general health, mental health, injuries). The survey included two additional modules, one on suspected risk factors of chronic kidney disease and another module on employment discrimination and work-related violence.

The II ECCTS provides a snapshot in time of specific aspects of working conditions, health beliefs, and behaviors in Central America. These pictures provide a benchmark for future surveys on health and working conditions in Central America.







Publications and Data

Survey Reports

Access the documentation for each round of the ECCTS.

I.  ECCTS – First Central American Survey of Working Conditions and Health (2011)

II. ECCTS – Second Central American Survey of Working Conditions and Health (2018)

Publications and Presentations

Browse a collection of publications and presentations using the ECCTS


Access to the ECCTS data is provided by request and free of charge for scientific use. We will do our best to review data requests and provide access to the ECCTS data in a timely manner. The use of the ECCTS data implies an agreement to send an electronic copy of the publication or document using the ECCTS data after it has been published or publicly disseminated to [email protected].

Acknowledgment of Funding

Proper acknowledgment of the funding for the ECCTS in published articles, manuscripts, theses and dissertations, posters, presentations, inventions, patents, or press releases is critical for the success of the ECCTS. Please use the language provided here to acknowledge funding for the ECCTS, as appropriate.

Contact Information

For questions, please reach out to [email protected]. You can also contact the principal investigators:

David Gimeno Ruiz de Porras, PhD
Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
UTHealth School of Public Health
7411 John Smith Drive, Suite 1100
San Antonio, TX 78229
Phone: 210.276.9011
Email: [email protected]

George Delclos, MD, MPH, PhD
Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
UTHealth School of Public Health
1200 Pressler, W1040
Houston, TX 77030
Phone:  713.486.5189
Email:  [email protected]