Validation of a 2-Item Food Insecurity Screen Among Adult General Medicine Outpatients

Harrison C, Goldstein JN, Gbadebo A, Papas M

Popul Health Manag 2021 08;24(4):509-514

PMID: 33021444


Food insecurity is defined as limited access to food and is associated with adverse physical, social, and emotional health outcomes. As social needs are addressed in heath care, efficient methods to identify patients living in food insecure households are necessary. A 2-item screen (HFSS-2) derived from the US Department of Agriculture Household Food Security Scale (HFSS-18) has been validated among parents of pediatric patients with a sensitivity of 97% and specificity of 83%. The objective was to validate the HFSS-2 in adult general medicine outpatients. HFSS-18 was administered to a sample of adult general medicine outpatients in Delaware from 2018 to 2019. The authors evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of the HFSS-2. Multivariable logistic regression was used to calculate convergent validity between the HFSS-18 and the HFSS-2. Three hundred ninety patients were approached with 295 (75%) enrolling in this study; 17.6% (52/295) were food insecure. A confirmatory response to either of the 2 items from the HFSS-2 had a sensitivity of 98% (95% CI: 94%, 100%) and specificity of 91% (95% CI: 87%, 94%). Food insecurity was associated with increased odds of coronary heart disease (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 4.63; 95% CI: 1.55, 13.79; AOR 4.19; 95% CI: 1.51, 11.59) and diabetes (AOR 4.19; 95% CI: 1.94, 9.08; AOR 3.73; 95% CI: 1.83, 7.92) using both the HFSS-18 and the HFSS-2. HFSS-2 was found to be highly sensitive and specific. This is the first study to validate this tool in this population that the authors are aware of.

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