Understanding the Interconnectedness of Behavioral Health Risks Experienced by Mother’s and Food Insecurity

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Conference Paper

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Purpose: Mothers who experience elevated psychosocial risk factors face challenges related to their mental, physical, and emotional health. This coupled with being food insecure can add another layer of challenges when to ensuring well-being of their children. Often, women’s health and food insecurity are studied independently, despite its interrelationship. This study employed a secondary data analysis of the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (Year 2015) to explore the associations among psychosocial risk factors and food insecurity. Methods: An adapted version of the Institute for Health and Recovery’s Behavioral Health Risk Screen (BHRS), PHQ-9, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), and additional anxiety questions were used to examine depression, substance use and smoking usage of biological mothers and their experiences with food insecurity within the 2015 Fragile Families study (N=257). Findings: Behavioral health risks: emotional health (r=.195, p<.002), smoking (r=.148, p<.018), and interpersonal violence (r=.137, p<.002) were significantly correlated with food insecurity. Findings from the multiple regression indicated that food insecurity (dependent variable), when regressed on emotional health, smoking, and interpersonal violence, R2adj = 0.054, are statistically significant (F5, 251 = 3.93, p < 0.02). With other variables held constant, food insecurity was positively related to smoking, interpersonal violence, and emotional heath. Implications: Findings indicate robust evidence for policies and public health interventions to target food insecure women with elevated risk of psychosocial stressors, by holistically encompassing and addressing behavioral health and lifestyle factors while revealing environmental, structural and social determinants of health which impact equity of care.




Social Work