Upon completion, participants will be able to describe the prevalence of food insecurity among health professions students and factors associated with food insecurity in this group during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food insecurity among college students exceeds the national average. COVID-19 impacted food security status and increased anxiety and depression across the U.S. This study explored how anxiety and depression were associated with COVID-19 related changes in food security status among health professions students.
A cross-sectional web-based survey emailed between January-March 2021 was utilized. COVID-19 related changes in food security status were assessed by one survey question. Anxiety and depression were measured using the 4-item Patient Health Questionnaire scale [PHQ-4]. Binary logistic regression with COVID-19’s impact on food security status as the dependent variable was used to analyze the data, adjusting for covariates selected a priori.
Of the 816 respondents, the median age was 25 years, 74.6% were female and 31.3% were first-generation college students. Thirty-one percent had screening scores reflecting depression, 17.2% reflected anxiety and 14.8% reported that their food insecurity increased during COVID-19. Screening positive for anxiety was associated with higher odds [OR=2.66] of being more food insecure due to COVID-19 after adjusting for covariates. Being a first-generation student [OR=1.87], receiving student loans [OR= 1.81], losing income due to COVID-19 [OR=4.14], and being Black or African American [OR=3.33] were also independently associated with higher odds of being more food insecure due to COVID-19 after adjusting for other covariates.
Anxiety was independently associated with being more food insecure due to the COVID-19 pandemic among health professions students. Further research exploring screening and interventions for food insecurity and mental health among health professions students is needed.
This work was supported by the Department of Clinical and Preventive Nutrition Sciences at Rutgers University which provided gift cards that were raffled off to participants who completed the survey.
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.