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Screening for food insecurity in six Veterans Administration Clinics for the Homeless, June-December 2015

T.P. O'Toole, C.B. Roberts, E.E. Johnson
Prev Chronic Dis

Objective: We assessed findings from a food-insecurity screening of a national sample of Veterans Administration clinics for homeless and formerly homeless veterans.

Methods: We reviewed results from initial screenings administered at 6 Veterans Administration primary care clinics for the homeless and responses from clinic staff members interviewed about the screening program.

Results: A total of 270 patients were screened. The average age was 53 years, and most were male (93.1%). Screening showed a high prevalence of food insecurity. Of the 270, 48.5% reported they experienced food insecurity in the previous 3 months, 55.0% reported averaging 2 meals a day, and 27.3% averaged 1 meal a day. Eighty-seven percent prepared their own meals, relying on food they bought (54.2%), help from friends and family (19.1%), and soup kitchens and food pantries (22%); 47.3% received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (food stamps). Additionally, of those who screened positive for food insecurity 19.8% had diabetes or prediabetes, and 43.5% reported hypoglycemia symptoms when without food. Clinic staff members responded positively to the screening program and described it as a good rapport builder with patients.

Conclusions: Integrating screening for food insecurity among patients in clinical settings was well received by both patients and health care providers. Addressing these positive findings of food insecurity requires a multidisciplinary health care approach.



O'Toole TP, Roberts CB, Johnson EE. Screening for food insecurity in six Veterans Administration Clinics for the Homeless, June-December 2015. Prev Chronic Dis. 2017;14:E04. PMID: 28084988. DOI: 10.5888/pcd14.160375.


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Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Social Needs/ SDH
Health & Health Behaviors
Patient Experience of Care
Screening research
Social Determinant of Health
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Other Study Design