Research Day

Document Type





Introduction: Food insecurity is both an inconvenience and problem. As of 2013, over 16 million children in the USA were food insecure. The consequences of food insecurity include health issues from nutritional deficits, developmental difficulties, and behavioral problems that manifest in educational, personal and professional challenges. Overall, food insecurity and its impact on individuals and families is under-recognized. Additionally, the extent to which physicians play a role in helping patients secure access to food assistance programs remains unclear. Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy and methodologies of current healthcare practices based in Kalamazoo County, MI, in identifying pediatric patients who are food insecure. Results will help local assistance resources, such as Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, improve outreach efforts and re-focus their programs. Furthermore, results could impact physician practices regarding identifying those who are food insecure. Methods: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) developed a 2-question survey with 97% sensitivity for identifying food insecurity. The questions are: "Within the past 12 months, we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more" and "Within the past 12 months, the food we bought just didn't last and we didn't have money to buy more." Using these questions as a foundation, we developed an electronically distributed 20-question survey that assessed awareness of food insecurity among Kalamazoo pediatric and family medicine physicians. Survey questions covered years of practice, usage of the AAP questions, level of formal training on food insecurity, mid-level and support staff, and resources recommended to patients. Results and Discussion: The 25 responses were analyzed for differences between groups. Although no significant relationships were found, 76% of respondents believed food insecurity directly related to their patient's illness, though only 52% ask direct questions about food insecurity. Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program referrals were common and almost all respondents were willing to include the two AAP-validated food insecurity screening questions in their practice. A consensus emerged that a list of local resources would be helpful in addressing food insecurity. Conclusion: Kalamazoo pediatricians and family medicine physicians believe food insecurity directly relates to the problems affecting their patients. However, only half of physicians ask patients about food insecurity. Future work should focus on expanding physician-patient conversations about food insecurity, addition of validated food insecurity questions to patient questionnaires, and compiling a list of local resources for distribution to local providers.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.