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In 2018, about 1 out of 9 Americans and 1 out of 7 children were food insecure, which is the inability to consume enough food to maintain a healthy and active life. Food insecurity encompasses both malnutrition and undernutrition. Food insecurity has many negative health consequences on both adults and children. Food insecurity has also been shown to exacerbate poor health. Recent studies have shown that food insure adults are more likely to underuse or skip their medications due to cost. In addition, food insecure adults are at substantially higher risk of diabetes and are more likely to have emergency room visits.

As a result, food insecurity may be preventing healthcare providers from effectively treating and managing the health conditions of their patients. Therefore, it is important for healthcare providers to screen their patients for potential food insecurity. However, in practice, this is rarely or not often done enough. The reasons often given not to do it are discomfort with discussing sensitive topics such as finances, lack of time to conduct such screenings, and lack of perceived training needed to effectively connect their patients with appropriate resources when necessary.

This study will attempt to understand potential barriers (from both parents and healthcare providers) to effective screening for food insecurity in healthcare settings. By surveying parents and providers, the researchers hope to better understand the parent/provider relationship and what helps each feel comfortable discussing such an important topic in the health care setting. The findings from this exploratory study will potentially help understand how to better screen for food insecurity and help healthcare providers more effectively treat the health conditions of their patients.

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Principal Investigator

Su-I Hou, Dr.P.H.
Professor & Founding Director, School of Global Health Management and Informatics


Christian King, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Global Health Management and Informatics
Ann Miller, Ph.D.
Professor, Communication