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Many chronically ill Americans suffer from food insecurity, study finds
If your chronically ill patients are having trouble affording the medications you prescribe for them, they may be experiencing food insecurity, according to a new study.
Researchers looked at data on about 10,000 adults reporting chronic illness taken from National Health Interview Survey. Within that sample, 23.4% reported experiencing cost-related medication underuse-taking less medication than prescribed, or none at all, due to costs, and 18.8% reported food insecurity-defined as “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways” during the previous 12 months. Eleven percent reported experiencing both.
Niteesh Choudhry, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the department of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and one of the study’s authors, told the New York Times that “[doctors] should be asking patients about an inability to get good food or medications every single time we see them, especially when we encounter patients who have poorly controlled chronic conditions.”
Looking at specific subgroups, the study found that:
“The high overall prevalence of food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse highlights how difficult successful chronic disease management in the current social environment is,” the authors write. “Because of these findings, assessing for both household food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse…may be warranted.”
Results of the study appear in the April, 2014 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.