Assessing Provider Knowledge and Confidence Towards Addressing Food Insecurity Efforts in Primary Care
Lay Abstract

Food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for each person to live an active and healthy life and remains a notable public health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Brigham Primary Care food insecurity may be identified through social determinant questionnaires assigned to patient visits to primary care clinics. However little is known regarding physician confidence and knowledge in effectively identifying and addressing food insecurity with primary care patients. Practicing physicians in a local primary care clinic were surveyed regarding their knowledge of available resources to address food insecurity for their primary care patients. The majority of participants surveyed reported limited confidence in not only addressing food insecurity but also identifying resources to improve patient care. To help improve patient outcomes, a provider focused food insecurity toolkit has been developed to help improve physician ability to address food insecurity needs.

Scientific Abstract

Food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for each person to live an active and healthy life and remains a notable public health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, a 2-Item food insecurity screen, The Hunger Vital Sign, has high sensitivity (97%) and specificity (83%), and is embedded within the Social Determinants of Health questionnaires (SDOH and PSDOH) utilized in BWH Primary Care. While patients with a positive food insecurity screen can subsequently receive targeted resources from their primary care provider, there is limited data regarding provider knowledge and confidence in discussing food insecurity needs.

In January 2021, 20 physicians practicing at the Family Care Associates Internal Medicine-Pediatrics clinic were surveyed regarding their knowledge and confidence in addressing food insecurity. 13 of 20 (3 attending and 17 resident) physicians completed the survey. 9 out of 13 respondents either strongly disagreed (2) or disagreed (9) that they were confident in addressing food insecurity. 9 of 13 either strongly disagreed (3) or disagreed (6) that they were confident in identifying food resources.

Given this dearth of confidence a provider target food resource education toolkit has been developed to help support clinical efforts in addressing food insecurity.

Clinical Implications
If provider confidence and knowledge of food insecurity resources remains poor, patients screening positive for food insecurity may continue to have poor access to food resources. Improving provider knowledge and confidence may help facilitate in connecting patients to food resources

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