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To estimate the association between food insufficiency and mental health service utilisation in the USA during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cross-sectional study. Multiple logistic regression models were used to estimate the associations between food insufficiency and mental health service utilisation.
US Census Household Pulse Survey data collected in October 2020.
Nationally representative sample of 68 611 US adults.
After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, experiencing food insufficiency was associated with higher odds of unmet mental health need (adjusted OR (AOR) 2·90; 95 % CI 2·46, 3·43), receiving mental health counselling or therapy (AOR 1·51; 95 % CI 1·24, 1·83) and psychotropic medication use (AOR 1·56; 95 % CI 1·35, 1·80). Anxiety and depression symptoms mediated most of the association between food insufficiency and unmet mental health need but not the associations between food insufficiency and either receiving mental health counselling/therapy or psychotropic medication use.
Clinicians should regularly screen patients for food insufficiency, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanding access to supplemental food programmes may help to mitigate the need for higher mental health service utilisation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Psychotropic prescription rates continue to increase in the United States (USA). Few studies have investigated whether social-structural factors may play a role in psychotropic medication use independent of mental illness. Food insecurity is prevalent among people living with HIV in the USA and has been associated with poor mental health. We investigated whether food insecurity was associated with psychotropic medication use independent of the symptoms of depression and anxiety among women living with HIV in the USA.
We used cross-sectional data from the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a nationwide cohort study. Food security (FS) was the primary explanatory variable, measured using the Household Food Security Survey Module. First, we used multivariable linear regressions to test whether FS was associated with symptoms of depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression [CESD] score), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD-7 score) and mental health-related quality of life (MOS-HIV Mental Health Summary score; MHS). Next, we examined associations of FS with the use of any psychotropic medications, including antidepressants, sedatives and antipsychotics, using multivariable logistic regressions adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, income, education and alcohol and substance use. In separate models, we additionally adjusted for symptoms of depression (CESD score) and anxiety (GAD-7 score).
Of the 905 women in the sample, two-thirds were African-American. Lower FS (i.e. worse food insecurity) was associated with greater symptoms of depression and anxiety in a dose–response relationship. For the psychotropic medication outcomes, marginal and low FS were associated with 2.06 (p < 0.001; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.36–3.13) and 1.99 (p < 0.01; 95% CI = 1.26–3.15) times higher odds of any psychotropic medication use, respectively, before adjusting for depression and anxiety. The association of very low FS with any psychotropic medication use was not statistically significant. A similar pattern was found for antidepressant and sedative use. After additionally adjusting for CESD and GAD-7 scores, marginal FS remained associated with 1.93 (p < 0.05; 95% CI = 1.16–3.19) times higher odds of any psychotropic medication use. Very low FS, conversely, was significantly associated with lower odds of antidepressant use (adjusted odds ratio = 0.42; p < 0.05; 95% CI = 0.19–0.96).
Marginal FS was associated with higher odds of using psychotropic medications independent of depression and anxiety, while very low FS was associated with lower odds. These complex findings may indicate that people experiencing very low FS face barriers to accessing mental health services, while those experiencing marginal FS who do access services are more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medications for distress arising from social and structural factors.
To examine the availability of nutritional support services in HIV care and treatment sites across sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2008, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of sites providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) in nine sub-Saharan African countries. Outcomes included availability of: (i) nutritional counselling; (ii) micronutrient supplementation; (iii) treatment for severe malnutrition; and (iv) food rations. Associations with health system indicators were explored using bivariate and multivariate methods.
President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-supported HIV treatment and care sites across nine sub-Saharan African countries.
A total of 336 HIV care and treatment sites, serving 467 175 enrolled patients.
Of the sites under study, 303 (90 %) offered some form of nutritional support service. Nutritional counselling, micronutrient supplementation, treatment for severe acute malnutrition and food rations were available at 98 %, 64 %, 36 % and 31 % of sites, respectively. In multivariate analysis, secondary or tertiary care sites were more likely to offer nutritional counselling (adjusted OR (AOR): 2·2, 95 % CI 1·1, 4·5). Rural sites (AOR: 2·3, 95 % CI 1·4, 3·8) had increased odds of micronutrient supplementation availability. Sites providing ART for >2 years had higher odds of availability of treatment for severe malnutrition (AOR: 2·4, 95 % CI 1·4, 4·1). Sites providing ART for >2 years (AOR: 1·6, 95 % CI 1·3, 1·9) and rural sites (AOR: 2·4, 95 % CI 1·4, 4·4) had greater odds of food ration availability.
Availability of nutritional support services was high in this large sample of HIV care and treatment sites in sub-Saharan Africa. Further efforts are needed to determine the uptake, quality and effectiveness of these services and their impact on patient and programme outcomes.
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