Food insecurity screening among families of children with diabetes

Diabetes Spectrum

Little is known about screening in clinical settings for food insecurity (FI) among households of children with diabetes. This study evaluated the acceptability and feasibility of an FI screening initiative in a pediatric diabetes clinic that was implemented to help diabetes dietitian educators tailor management plans for families of children with type 1 or type 2 diabetes facing FI.

The initiative comprised three validated screening questions, a care algorithm, a community resource handout, and a poster. In total, 50 families of children and adolescents aged 0–18 years with type 1 or type 2 diabetes were screened for FI. In-person semi-structured interviews combining open-ended and Likert-scale questions were conducted with 37 of the screened families and the three diabetes dietitian educators who conducted the screening. Perceived barriers and facilitators of the screening initiative were identified using content analysis, and Likert-scale questionnaires rated interviewees’ comfort level with the screening questions. A reflective journal kept by an onsite research interviewer also facilitated the data interpretation process.

Most families felt comfortable answering the screening questions. Families with FI appreciated the opportunity to express their concerns and learn about affordable food resources. However, ∼20% of these families described stigma and fear of judgment by clinicians if they screened positive for FI. Diabetes educators also felt comfortable with the screening questions but reported lack of time to screen all families and to follow-up with resources after a positive screen. A self-reported intake form was recommended to ensure that everyone is systematically screened.

A standardized and respectful method of assessing FI could help clinicians better tailor treatment plans and support for families of children with diabetes who face FI. Based on these findings, similar FI screening initiatives should be implemented in other clinical settings as part of routine clinical practice.

Vitale M, Dorado L, Pais V, Sidani S, Gucciardi E. Food insecurity screening among families of children with diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum. 2019;32(4):338-348. DOI:

Publication Year: 
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Children and Youth
Screening Research: