The study was conducted as part of Children's HealthWatch (www.childrenshealthwatch.org), a nationwide consortium of urban medical centers devoted to monitoring how national policies and environmental conditions affect the health, growth and development of children under three years of age. Working in emergency departments and pediatric primary care clinics, Children's HealthWatch interviewers asked 30,098 families all 18 questions on the U.S. Household Food Security Scale. The scale is a survey developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to track food insecurity in America. About 23 percent of the families who participated were food insecure.
Dr. Black and colleagues analyzed the families' responses to all 18 questions see if fewer queries could be just as definitive as the full survey. The responses to the first two questions accurately identified the vast majority of hungry families. The researchers evaluated statistical factors and found a sensitivity of 97 percent, meaning that only three percent of families who experience food insecurity were likely to be misclassified as food-secure using the two-question survey. The results are encouraging, and the new test can be implemented right away, says Dr. Black.
"We're hoping our findings will immediately enable clinics and other outreach centers screen families for food insecurity," she says. "We want children and their parents to get help as soon as they can to prevent long-term health and developmental consequences."
"This study is an example of how taking an innovative approach to evaluating existing methods can help us find a better way and improve human health," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Prof
|Contact: Karen Buckelew|
University of Maryland Medical Center